With about 8 minutes left to go and leading by 14, the Ducks had the look of a team preparing to put the finishing touches on their sixth win of the season.
That is, before everything seemed to come unraveled.
Despite their considerable deficit, Portland State slowly but surely clawed their way back in to the game, nibbling at the Oregon lead and eventually cutting the difference to three with 1:31 remaining off a clutch three-pointer by Viking guard and South Medford native, Michael Harthun. Fortunately for Oregon, just as quickly as they were losing their grip on the game, they regained control with an 8-2 run to close out a 79-70 win, moving to 6-2 on the season.
"If we could have stopped the game with six minutes to go, I would have felt pretty good," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman through a forced smile.
"Up 14, we really had the momentum. We let up a little bit and Portland State made a great run, hit some shots and gave themselves an opportunity."
The man playing a large role in killing the Vikings' opportunity down the stretch was Oregon senior guard Devoe Joseph, who in only his second game as a Duck, chipped in 13 points and provided clutch free-throw shooting when the game was still in doubt.
"He has a lot of experience even though he's played two games here at Oregon," said Oregon senior guard Garrett Sim, who finished with 13 points of his own.
"He played a lot of minutes at Minnesota, which is top tier basketball. He did a good job finishing the game out with free throws and that big basket that took us up five. It was big plays by Devoe down the stretch (that made the difference)."
E.J. Singler led the Ducks with 19 points and seven rebounds, the second time this season he has led Oregon in those statistical categories. His effort, combined with Oregon assisting on 18 of 27 made field goals and only turning the ball over a season-low seven times, enabled the Ducks to put together one of their more complete games of the season.
The Ducks have nearly a week off before hitting a stretch of schedule that has them playing four games in five days. The marathon begins next Sunday as they face off against Virginia in rematch of last year's contest in Charlottesville. According to Sim, the Ducks are eager to avenge their ugly 63-48 loss to Cavaliers.
"We're definitely looking forward to that game," said Sim. "We need a big win like that against Virginia. They're a good team and I think definitely, for the guys coming back, we want to redeem ourselves."
Tip off against the Cavaliers from Matt Knight Arena is set for 2:30 p.m. Pacific. A live telecast of the game can be seen on ROOT Sports (FSN).
With 12:15 left in the game, Oregon senior forward Tyrone Nared injured his knee after he was rolled up on by Sim who was scrambling after a loose ball. After the game, Altman said it was unclear how much time Nared would miss, but that it "looks like he's going to be out for awhile." Altman said that Nared would have an MRI on his injured knee, adding that he anticipated that Nared would miss at least the next four games "for sure."
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
Ducks Put Away Portland State Late
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