Oregon Sneaks Past Concordia 86-57

Tuesday night, the Duck men's basketball team squared off against the best school named Concordia University west of Chicago, south of Quebec, north of Austin and East of Irvine, California. Portland's version of Concordia University kept the game tight early, even leading for a short period of time before they relinquished their commanding 3-2 lead for good about 90 seconds into the contest.

Eugene, OR— The #12 Ducks started the game with perhaps too much spring in their collective step and turned the ball over on four of the first five possessions. Oregon coach Ernie Kent called an early timeout to address the sloppy play and re-focus his team. Kent was especially concerned about the kind of turnovers the Ducks committed. "They were unforced turnovers. Two of them were on post feeds, and two of them were on out of bounds plays." Kent said he would examine how the Ducks inbound the ball in the future to eliminate the mistakes. "That was Aaron Brooks' job last year," added Kent.

The Ducks shored up their ball handling after five sloppy minutes to start the game, but not before most of the Ducks contributed to debacle. Seemingly every Oregon starter had problems holding on to the ball and made ill-advised passes in traffic. The plucky Concordia team made a concerted effort to get their hands into every passing lane and every shooter's face, which caught a few Ducks off guard. Coach Kent appeared frustrated about the lack of ball security and the reserve guards made their way off the bench early in the contest.

The woes on offense did not transfer to the other half of the court as Oregon played inspired defense throughout the game regardless of the fact that the score had gotten well out of hand. The Ducks held Concordia to 35% shooting in the first half and 39% in the second half even after most of the Oregon starters were warming the bench. The defensive falloff after going to the young bench was not lost on the Duck coach. Kent said, "The more physically in shape they get, the more mentally tough they get, the more they will be able to sustain and the better we will be defensively."

When the Ducks were not turning the ball over they were shooting lights out. In the first half of the game Oregon shot a ridiculous 67% from the three point line, 100% from the charity stripe, and 62% overall. With the starting team on the bench, the second half percentages declined to 33% from three, 33% from the stripe, and 55% overall.

The Ducks had five players score in double figures. They were led by Maarty Leunen with 18, Joevan Catron with 16, Malik Hairston with 12, while Tajuan Porter and LeKendric Longmire each pitched in 11. Catron and Porter led the team in rebounds (not sure how to feel about that) with 7 each, and Kamyron Brown had a team high 5 assists to offset his 5 turnovers.

The Oregon starters played a few minutes after halftime before relinquishing the court to their supporting cast. The lack of experience on the floor led to a marked decline in Oregon's scoring, and a sharp increase offensive chances for the Concordia Cavaliers.

Ray "Stingray" Schafer didn't let the opportunity for extra playing time slip past him without taking full advantage. In a three second span Ray blocked a shot, grabbed the rebound in traffic, and then flew face first into the handicapped benches for the loose ball after two Concordia guards stripped it from his hands. The crowd roared in approval of the extra effort despite the fact that Ray had just committed a turnover. Schafer finished the game with 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, and one turnover in 10 minutes. Ray will probably see more time in practice at the free throw line this week after going 0-3 on freebies.

Two plays were worthy contestants for play-of-the-night honors. Late in the first half Tajuan Porter spied Bryce Taylor in transition streaking toward the basket. Porter lofted a pass that seemed destined for the eighth row behind the basket before Taylor skied over two Cavaliers, caught the ball at its apex and powered it through the rim with authority. Hopefully a member of the Pit Crew had a cell phone out to record the play and will have it up on YouTube soon.

The other play of the night might have been lost on some of the slightly apathetic crowd. Oregon was running a half-court set when Catron found himself unguarded and fortuitously in possession of the ball at the top of the three point arc. Showing surprisingly graceful form, Catron didn't even hesitate to shoot and buried his only attempt from long range. When asked about the play, Catron unblinkingly said "I'm very confident [in my shot], you've got to be confident to shoot the ball on this team. When I get my chance to shoot it I'm going to shoot the ball."

The slimmed down Catron said he felt his off-season weight loss had really helped him improve. "I feel like I move so much better up and down the court this year… this year I feel a lot more fluid on the court" Joevan said. Coach Kent also praised Catron for the way he has improved his game this year. "He is just a very passionate player that is on a mission to play and he wants to start, and he wants the competition and he loves the bright lights and you need to play him because he brings a different kind of passion to the floor" said Kent.

Churchill Odia, Frantz Dorsainvil, and Mitch Platt were all held out of the exhibition. Odia has been out all week with a sore back but should be back in a few days. Platt sat out with a sprained thumb on his left hand, but is also on schedule to be back before the season officially starts. Dorsainvil was held out of the game for an undisclosed academic situation to "help him understand how important that is to us" according to Kent. Dorsainvil will be available to play this weekend.

Oregon officially starts the season this Saturday, November 10th vs. Pepperdine at Mac Court. Game time is 4:00 p.m. and will is scheduled to be broadcast on the Oregon Sports Network.

Official game stats can be found here.

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