Oregon struggles in 78-64 loss to Vanderbilt

NASHVILLE, TENN. (AP) Blending nine newcomers and opening the season on the road against a Top 10 team proved to be too much for the Oregon Ducks.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks center Tony Woods (55) drives against Vanderbilt Commodores forward Steve Tchiengang (33) during the second half at Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt defeated Oregon 78-64. Credit: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE

Tony Woods scored 12 points, and E.J. Singler and Brett Kingma added 10 apiece as the Ducks opened their second season under coach Dana Altman with a 78-64 loss to No. 7 Vanderbilt on Friday night.

The Ducks are 0-4 when opening the season against a ranked opponent. They outshot Vanderbilt from the field hitting 49.1 percent (26 of 53) compared to 40.9 percent (27 of 66) but didn't help themselves at the free throw line where they made just 6 of 17. They also turned it over 20 times, and Altman was worried about this game after a couple of poor practices.

''I don't think our guys were confident coming into this game,'' Altman said. ''When you don't practice, don't do a good job of preparing day in and day out like you need to, you can't expect to win.''

The Ducks are coming off winning the Collegiate Basketball Invitational to go 21-18 in Altman's first season. But he's working together almost a new roster featuring five transfers. Jeremy Jacobplayed only 17 games last season due to a knee injury, and top scorer Joevan Catron is gone.

Kingma said the Ducks will get everything figured out.

''I'm not worried, I know guys are going to pick it up,'' he said. ''This loss hurts, but you just got to take care of the ball.''

The Ducks ran into a Vanderbilt team that hadn't been ranked in the preseason since November 1993 when they were No. 23, and they haven't been ranked this high since 1965 when they were fifth.

John Jenkins scored 24 points, Jeffery Taylor added 21 and 11 rebounds and Brad Tinsley 13 as the Commodores took control with an 18-0 run over the final 2:33 of the first half and the first few minutes of the second.

Oregon led by as many as six points early and didn't go down easily..

Vanderbilt led by 20 with 13:36 to go, but Oregon came back with 14 straight points. The Ducks got as close as 62-57 on a jumper by Kingma with 5:09 left. Taylor answered by putting back his own miss with 4:41 left, then Jabari Brown had a turnover at midcourt. Johnathan Loyd missed both free throws, then Taylor hit a jumper to start a 12-0 run to seal the win.

This is the first time in his 13 seasons that coach Kevin Stallings has had all five starters back at Vanderbilt, but he will be without center Festus Ezeli for up to eight weeks after the senior sprained his right knee late last month. Ezeli had been suspended for the first six games by the NCAA for accepting a meal and a hotel room from an alumnus during the summer.

''It's obviously a significant thing for us not to have him,'' Stallings said. ''But we don't have him, and we're not going to have him for a while. So we can't sit around and lament what it means not to have Festus. We have to play better, and we have to play without him and make up for that. And we did. We played hard.''

The Commodores struggled early despite the sellout crowd. The Ducks hit eight of their first 10 shots and led by as much as 18-12 on Kingma's 3-pointer with 12:18 left. Jenkins, the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer last season, missed his first four shots before hitting his fifth 3 with 6:59 left to put Vandy up 22-20. He wound up 7 of 16 from 3-point range.

Stallings knows Altman well from their days when he was at Illinois State and Altman coached at Creighton. Stallings said Altman didn't play any zone in two exhibitions, and he credited the Ducks' zone with bothering his Commodores. He thought he had them prepared.

Jenkins said he had a bit of nerves early too.

''As soon as we started moving the ball and moving around we got used to it and shots started falling,'' Jenkins said. ''We got in the middle, we got kick-outs for 3s, and we got them to foul on us a little bit, so that was good.''

Stallings didn't worry about Jenkins missing early.

''I live with all his misses because I know makes are right around the corner,'' Stallings said.

Oregon last led 29-26 when Garrett Sim hit the first of two free throw attempts with 3:17 remaining. The Ducks didn't score the rest of the half.

Freshman Kedren Johnson scored on a layup with 2:33 left to start the 16-0 run. Taylor hit two free throws to put Vandy back up 30-29. Jenkins added another 3, and Henderson hit two free throws for a 35-29 halftime lead.

Taylor picked up in the second half where Vandy left off with a basket, and Jenkins hit a 3-pointer 57 seconds into the half for a 40-29 lead. Tinsley added a layup off the fast break as the Commodores forced Oregon into five turnovers within the first 3 minutes. Taylor's layup capped the 18-0 run with 18:02 remaining.

By the time Jenkins hit another 3 with 14:15 to go, Vandy led 53-35, and Henderson tipped in a missed free throw by Dai-Jan Parker for the Commodores' biggest lead, 55-35 with 13:36 remaining.

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