In their final exhibition game before they hit the ground running this upcoming Friday at No. 7 Vanderbilt, the Ducks took out some of the aggression leftover from Wednesday night's unseemly 82-75 win over Grand Canyon. Behind a balanced scoring effort spearheaded by team-leading 16-point contributions from newcomers Jabari Brown and Olu Ashaolu, the Ducks marched their way to a convincing 100-58 victory over the Lewis and Clark Pioneers Sunday afternoon. Powered by a brutally effective inside game, Oregon scored 54 of their 100 points in the paint, shooting a sizzling 58.1 percent from the field. The Ducks also grabbed 56 rebounds -- their second consecutive game with over 50 total rebounds -- and got 55 points from their bench; gaudy numbers that were boosted by the team's 51-20 performance in the second half.
"I thought our defensive intensity picked up in the second half and I thought we did a much better job of making plays for our teammates," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman after his team's win.
"The second half I thought we took a step. The first half it was kind of the same problems that we had in the last ball game; just always a step behind and not as aggressive as we needed to be on the defensive end."
Though he got off to a similarly shaky start Sunday, the true freshman Brown responded to Wednesday's forgettable outing by posting a 16-point, 11-rebound and 5-assist effort against the Pioneers, playing with seemingly more confidence and a more attacking nature. Tonight, Brown was at his best in the open floor, initiating the break and finding cutting teammates to the basket.
"He just played harder," said Altman of Brown. "He was in neutral the other night. I'm not sure if it was just his first ball game and he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but I just thought his effort was better which is obvious from the 11 boards...He just played much better."
After fouling out midway through the second half against Grand Canyon, Ashaolu had a much better performance in his own right against Lewis and Clark. The transfer from Louisiana Tech had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with nine rebounds; highlighted by two steals and subsequent thunderous dunks that were yielded from Oregon's suffocating full court press.
"He did some really good things," admitted Altman of Ashaolu. "When O's real active on the boards, he really does some good things. He got caught with a couple bad turnovers, but other than that, I thought he really tried to make shots for his teammates there late...I thought he played awfully well."
Jeremy Jacob and Tony Woods were Oregon's two other players in double figures, as both asserted themselves in the paint scoring 13 points a piece on a combined 10-of-13 shooting.
With their exhibition slate now behind them, the Ducks enter true game week preparation for their game next Friday against No. 7 Vanderbilt in Nashville. After tonight's game, Altman acknowledged the tremendous challenge that lies in wait for them five days from now, candidly stating that the exhibition games have him less than comfortable heading in to the regular season.
"I don't think comfortable describes how we're feeling right now," remarked Altman as he looks towards Vanderbilt. "I would hope that our team would have more of a sense of urgency, so I don't think ‘comfortable' is a good word to use.
"I know how far we have to go to challenge Vandy...It's two teams (facing off) that are in little bit of a different spot: One that's really experienced and one that's trying to piece a lot of things together. It's going to take a lot of focus and a lot of preparation on our game plan this week to put ourself in position to win that game."
Tip-off against the Commodores is set for 7:00 p.m. Pacific from Nashville on Friday, November 11. The game will be televised live on ROOT Sports/FSN.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
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