A win is a win. The Oregon men's basketball team lived by that creed Tuesday night as they had their hands full with a pesky Idaho State squad that was 2-9 entering this evening's game. Statistically, the game was quite even. The Bengals, in fact, shot nearly 60 percent (58.7) from the field -- a full 13 percentage points higher compared to the Ducks overall shooting effort. However, according to Oregon head coach Ernie Kent, the difference between a win and loss was offensive efficiency.
"The difference in the game for us was I thought the second half," said Kent, "I thought we shot it very well in the second half. They shot it well early in the game -- their first half shooting was unbelievable and they hit some tough shots and some big shots...I just though we did a much better job shooting the ball.
"When I look at our stats and you got four guys in double-figures and you shoot 50 percent in the second half and 54 (percent) from the three and you would be happy with that, but obviously we can play better and have played better."
For guard Malcolm Armstead, the difference between victory and defeat was a bit simpler.
"Toughness," stated Armstead, "I would say the past couple of games we've been having a little more mental toughness.
"That will carry you a long way. If you're going in to a game with no toughness, how do you expect to beat anybody when the game gets down to crunch time?"
Armstead had arguably his most brilliant game thus far in his young Oregon career, scoring a career-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point land.
"Malcolm Armstead carried us in the game again," said Kent, "I thought his toughness, his leadership, he hit big shot after big shot, he got poked in the eye, hit in the ribs, got beat up a little bit on the floor...I'm just really proud of him and he did a great job of stepping up and putting this team on his back and really carrying us through the second half of this game."
Joining Armstead in double-figure scoring for the Ducks were Garrett Sim, Michael Dunigan (each with 14), and E.J. Singler, who continues to do all the little things that get passed over on the stat sheet.
"I'm glad he got some (spotlight) stats-wise," said Kent of Singler's 11 point, seven rebound effort.
"I don't think he played a great game, but for a freshman, you look at his numbers and they're sitting right there again. He almost gets another double-double."
Idaho State was paced by guards Amarrow Morgan and Broderick Gilchrest, who had 21 and 20 points respectively, in the Bengals' valiant bid at an upset.
With one more non-conference game remaining Coach Kent wants to see his team respond with more energy and effort before the onset of Pac-10 play.
"I want to see us come back with a lot more energy," admitted Kent, "I want to see us play sharper basketball, get back to defending -- I thought we were pretty good defensively coming in to the game and we let some things get away -- and I really just want to see guys get back on their game. I want to see confidence."
December 28 is Oregon's final opportunity before the conference season begins, as Arkansas-Pine Bluff visits McArthur Court. Tip-off is set 7:00 p.m.
Note: Oregon guard Tajuan Porter did not play Tuesday after re-aggravating his injured ankle during Oregon's 72-60 win over Oakland on Saturday night. Kent said that Porter could have played if necessary, however the coaching staff decided to hold him out and try and "grind it out" without him. Kent said that, barring further setback, Porter could return to the lineup in time for the Arkansas-Pine Bluff game.
Ducks Inch Out 77-71 Over Idaho State
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