In what has turned out to be a season full of ups and down thus far, the Ducks earned their fifth win despite being hampered with injuries and off-the-court troubles. Oregon is now 2-2 without the help of their two hobbled senior leaders, Tajuan Porter (ankle) and Joevan Catron (back), however, they were even more shorthanded tonight as guard Teondre Williams and forward LeKendric Longmire played limited minutes to due to their failure to meet team expectations academically. Despite the victory, Oregon men's head basketball coach Ernie Kent was noticeably agitated by issue after the game.
"This program has been built on academics," said Kent Wednesday night, "The integrity of our program still stands on our academic reputation. There's some promises we made to parents and we're going to hold these kids accountable.
"In LeKendric's case and in Teondre's case, there was some responsibilities that wasn't meet, so they lost their starting roles."
When asked when those two players may regain their starting roles, Kent stated that Longmire and Williams will not start again until Kent is comfortable with their understanding of their responsibilities academically.
With two of the Ducks' most versatile players relegated to the bench for much of the game, a chance for sophomore guard Garrett Sim to further cement himself in the rotation became available. Sim responded to the opportunity brilliantly, as he led the Ducks in scoring (19), rebounding (8), and assists (6) in 35 minutes of action.
"My shot feels really good right now," admitted Sim who was 6-of-12 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, "I'm real confident shooting the ball and that's just [attribued to] getting extra shots up in practice. The last few weeks I've really been shooting the ball well, so I think it's just a confidence thing."
When it comes to crashing the boards however, Sim doesn't expect to get increased run in the post, chalking his rebounding success tonight to luck more than anything.
"I guess the ball bounced my way," chuckled Sim when asked about his performance on the glass, "and I went up and got it."
The Ducks also received double-digit scoring efforts from freshman Jamil Wilson and sophomore Jeremy Jacob, who each finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Mississippi Valley State guard Julius Cheeks led all scorers tonight with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-9 from three-point land.
The win gives Oregon a bit of momentum as they head in to Saturday's contest against Oakland University. With Tajuan Porter expected to return to practice as early as Thursday, the Ducks could be the healthiest they've been in weeks, which may be necessary if Oregon is to knock off a pesky Golden Grizzlies squad which has defeated the Ducks each of the last two years.
"Obviously, Saturday just becomes a big game for us," said Kent, "There's a team that has beaten us twice. [Oakland is] a very good team with a very good inside game coming in here and it's going to be a challenge for us."
Tip off Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at McArthur Court.
Ducks Rout Delta Devils, 79-51
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