While it may be too soon to determine what life without Jabari Brown might be like for Oregon head coach Dana Altman and Ducks, what they do know is that they have a competent scoring option on their sideline who could erase the fleeting memory of the once ballyhooed recruit.
Meet Devoe Joseph. The sharpshooting swingman from the north of the border who, only a year ago, was a key player for Tubby Smith at Minnesota.
After well publicized falling out with Smith last season, Joseph packed his bags and headed west for Oregon, sitting out all of last season and six games this season per NCAA rules for transferring players. In his debut against the Fresno State Bulldogs Saturday night, Joseph announced himself rousing fashion, leading the Ducks in scoring with 18 points in 29 minutes of action.
"At first it was a little awkward," admitted Joseph after the Ducks' 74-70 win over Fresno State. "I missed a couple open shots, but I know what I've been bringing in practice. These guys have been preparing me for this moment all year long...They've got me ready for this day, so I knew if I could do it against them, I could do it against anybody."
The hallmark moment in Joseph's first action as a Duck was a brilliant series in the second half that saw him bookend a blocked a shot on defense with consecutive three pointers that ignited the Matt Knight Arena crowd and earned a subsequent timeout from Fresno State head coach, Rodney Terry.
The moment for Joseph was capped off in humorous, but less than ceremonious fashion, however, as he tripped over an Oregon trainer after hitting the tail-end of his back-to-back threes.
"I definitely tripped over the trainer," giggled Joseph. "I hurt my elbow a little bit, but it was definitely a relief to get (the shot) down."
Garrett Sim and E.J. Singler were the two other Ducks in double figures scoring tonight, scoring 17 and 14 points, respectively.
While the Ducks did move to 5-2 on the season, the win wasn't as rosy as Altman would have preferred. Oregon was outscored 26-14 in the combined categories of second chance points (11 to 5) and points off turnovers (15 to 9) against the Bulldogs; a worrisome statistic for Altman since the Ducks were beaten badly in those categories in their two losses on the road to Vanderbilt and BYU.
"That's a stat that we've got to get turned around," remarked Altman of the 26-14 margin in favor of Fresno State. "In our two losses to Vandy and BYU, those numbers were the same or worse than that, so we definitely need to get those numbers turned around...We've got to cut those down because it's creating such a difference in the number of shots taken. They took 13 more shots than we did."
The Ducks have a quick turnaround, as they only have a day off before returning to action Monday night against Portland State (5-3 overall). Tip off is set for 7:00 p.m. Pacific at Matthew Knight Arena. A live telecast of the game can be seen on Comcast Sports Network Northwest.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
Joseph, Sim Lead Oregon Over Bulldogs
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