Men's BasketballSports

Ducks top Central Arkansas 96-82 for fifth straight win

Within the first 20 minutes of Oregon nonconference finale against Central Arkansas on Wednesday, the Ducks outshot the Bear by 28 percent. Oregon made 22 of its 30 shot attempts and went to the half shooting a season-high of 73.3 percent from the field.

Come the second half and the tables would turn slightly as Central Arkansas outscored Oregon 42 to 41.

However, Oregon never let go of the lead, beating the Bears 96-82 at Matthew Knight Arena on Wednesday. The Ducks (10-3) finish nonconference play winners of their last five and head into conference play — which starts Dec. 29 — on a high note.

Almost seven minutes into Wednesday’s game, Payton Pritchard gave the Ducks their first lead at 16-14 on a layup. Within a minute, Pritchard hit a 3-pointer, giving him 12 points in the game, his 11th straight in double figures.

Pritchard’s three came in the midst of a 21-2 run by the Ducks. Over one stretch in the first half, the Bears didn’t hit a basket for nearly six minutes.

With Oregon playing without starter Paul White, due to concussion protocol, the Ducks’ bench players saw their chance to step-up for the team.

“I knew with him out that I would get some extra minutes,” redshirt freshman M.J. Cage said. “So, I just made sure to be ready to go.”

Cage entered the game with 13:22 to go in the first half and looked ready to go. He scored a career-high 11 points and grabbed four rebounds in 16 minutes of play, also a career high.

“Oh, he was everywhere,” Keith Smith said. “He actually does a lot of that in practice, so I was really happy to get to see him have the opportunity to show it in a game.”

Grad-transfer Mikyle McIntosh also had a standout night, highlighted in the final minutes of the first half. Pritchard saw McIntosh hiding unguarded in the corner. With a quick run to the key, Pritchard passed to McIntosh who went in for the two-handed dunk.

McIntosh finished with a season-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting with and three 3-pointers.

“That really helped,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “He hadn’t been shooting very well. But I thought his footwork and the ones he took were really good. He took four really good threes tonight, and he made three so that is a really big lift.”

Payton Pritchard led Oregon with 24 points and eight assists. McIntosh followed with 17 and Troy Brown with 14. Kenny Wooten, who picked up his first career start in place of White, finished with eight points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Central Arkansas senior Jordan Howard was the strongest force for Bears. He’s the Bear’s all-time leading 3-point shooter, and ended the night with eight 3-pointers, tying the Matthew Knight Arena record set by Travis Hammonds of Long Beach State back in 2015. In addition to his eight threes were his 35 points—just one point shy of the Matthew Knight Arena record of 36, set by Oregon’s Joe Young.

“He was really busy tonight,” Smith said of Howard. “We are going to face a lot of players like him in the conference, so it was good to go up against that for the future but we cannot let that happen moving forward.”

Oregon will open Pac-12 play on Friday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. against Utah at Matthew Knight Arena.

Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni

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Maggie Vanoni

Maggie Vanoni

Maggie is a senior sports reporter for the Emerald covering football, volleyball, men's basketball, men's tennis, track and field and softball. She is a lover of adventures, the Oregon Coast, writing and Ben and Jerry's. Follow her on Twitter at @maggie_vanoni and reach her at [email protected]