Elijah Brown flashes his scoring potential in Oregon’s blowout win over Colorado State
The Elijah Brown that came out on Friday night was the player that Oregon thought they were getting.
The grad-transfer from New Mexico averaged over 20 points a game during his two years with the Lobos, yet he has struggled to find his role for the Ducks so far this season. He entered Friday’s game averaging 12.9 points while shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from three.
All those season averages rose after his performance on Friday, arguably his best of the season, during Oregon’s 95-65 victory over Colorado State.
Brown rode a hot-shooting second half to a 20-point, five-rebound, six-assist game. He didn’t miss any of his six shots in the second half and looked as comfortable as ever in Oregon’s offense. It’s good timing, too, since Oregon’s struggles reached a boiling point last week when the Ducks dropped three of their last four games. Brown helped steady the ship on Friday night and his teammates hope more of these performances are in store for the grad-transfer.
“Tonight was big for him,” point guard Payton Pritchard said. “He hasn’t been shooting it like Elijah normally has been, and I’m hoping tonight that that’s how it is every game.”
Brown is the latest in a long line of transfers that Oregon has utilized under head coach Dana Altman. Joe Young, Dylan Ennis, Dwayne Benjamin, Elgin Cook, Chris Boucher, the list goes on. But while all those of the past fit in rather seamlessly, it’s taken time for Brown to adjust to his new role.
He carried New Mexico’s offense and played with the ball in his hands a majority of the time. He’s had to change his playing style with the Ducks, which, coupled with the learning curve of playing with four new starters, caused some early season struggles.
While the numbers say otherwise, those struggles reach a peak during PK80 two weeks ago. He scored at a high rate, but his shooting percentages dipped. At times, he looked indecisive, not sure of whether to pass or shoot. That issue has plagued him all season, except for Friday night. Brown played confidently and decisively, and it made a difference.
“I thought he was really patient tonight,” Altman said. “Very efficient, 7-for-9 [shooting], 4-for-6 [from three], five rebounds on the defensive end, some of those were big in the first half, and then six [assists] and one [turnover]. I’d take that stat line any night.”
Brown only took three shots in the first half and went into halftime with only two points and four rebounds. But unlike in other games, he didn’t let his lack of scoring dictate his play, a problem Altman said has contributed to his struggles on both the offensive and defensive end.
With 10 minutes, 47 seconds left in the game and Oregon leading 63-45, Brown had already made both of his shots in the second half. He then proceeds to score 11 of Oregon’s next 14 points, including three 3-pointers. By the time Brown made the last of his four threes, Oregon led by 30 with just over seven minutes left to play. He wrapped up his appearance with three more assists before being subbed out with 5:23 left to play and Oregon up by 36.
While it might be too much to ask for Brown to put up these kinds of numbers every night, he finally showed on Friday the kind of player he can if he plays up to his potential.
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris
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