Oregon beats Prairie View A&M behind strong second-half play
It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.
Despite turning the ball over 12 times and committing 23 fouls in the game, Oregon outscored Prairie View A&M by 24 points in the second half for a 100-67 win Monday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
By no means did Oregon (2-0) play its best, but head coach Dana Altman liked the improvement he saw from his squad coming off of Friday’s season opener against Coppin State.
“I thought our activity was a little better,” Altman said. “We still gotta get our ball movement much better on the offensive end. Defensively we talked a little better. …. It was a step in the right direction.”
Oregon held a nine-point lead at halftime, but turned the pace up coming out of the break. The Ducks outscored Prairie View (0-2) 19-0 on fastbreak points, with 14 of those coming in the second half. A Troy Brown layup with 10:03 left in the game put Oregon up 65-44.
The Ducks are trying to play with a higher tempo this season, but it’s one of the many areas that they feel they can improve on at this point in the year.
“I think at times we have spurts where we play as fast as we want to but it needs to be more consistent over the course of the whole game,” Keith Smith said, who finished with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting. “We want to push it a lot more than we actually do.”
Aside from picking up the tempo, Oregon also picked up its defensive intensity. The Ducks came out with more activity in their zone press, forcing 12 Panther turnovers in the second half. That, in turn, led to more fastbreak opportunities which helped Oregon build momentum, and its lead, as the game went on.
“In the first half, I feel like we were getting kind of lackadaisical with the press,” said Troy Brown. “But having V.J. [Bailey] up top and Keith up top, it really helped us push up and make them have a lot of turnovers.”
Roman Sorkin stole the show on Friday with his career night, but Monday’s matchup showed more parity on the scoreboard.
Five Ducks scored double figures, including Paul White, who was making his Oregon debut after missing Friday’s season opener with a foot injury. He scored 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three. M.J. Cage also made his Oregon debut, scoring one point and grabbing two rebounds in four minutes of play.
Troy Brown scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, both team highs, and dished out four assists. He wasn’t the only freshman to contribute. Bailey and Abu Kigab scored 15 and 10 points off the bench, respectively.
While the scoring increased with the change of tempo, the fouls and turnovers did as well. The game turned into a parade to the free throw line as the two teams’ shot 31 of the 49 free throw of the game in the second half. Oregon also turned the ball over six more times in the second half, a number that Altman said needs to decrease as the Ducks prepare for better competition in the coming weeks.
“We can’t be an effective offense if we’re turning the sucker over all the time,” Altman said.
Oregon welcomes Alabama State (0-2) to Matthew Knight on Friday, looking to stay undefeated on the year.
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris