Troy Brown and Kenny Wooten’s big game is a glimpse at what the freshmen can do
Eugene doesn’t experience droughts often, but for a five minute period in the first half, the Oregon men’s basketball team didn’t score a point.
Then, freshman Troy Brown checked back in.
With the Ducks down 19-16, Brown drove to the basket, fought through defenders and shot the ball high off the glass and in. Moments later he stole the ball at half court and threw down a one-handed dunk. The drought was certainly over.
“I liked his aggressiveness,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “He had a really good game. He was talking and he knew what they were doing with their overloads of the zone.”
— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) February 9, 2018
While he was in control offensively, freshman Kenny Wooten was dominating defensively with a career-high seven blocks. Oregon’s 65-40 victory over Washington was the Brown and Wooten show.
Brown and Wooten entered this season with high expectations as five and four-star recruits, respectively. They need to help lead a team coming off a Final Four appearance repeat as Pac-12 contenders, and Thursday night’s performances showed exactly why they had high expectations.
Brown had a masterful first half. He scored 16 of Oregon’s 28 first-half points to give the Ducks a seven-point halftime lead. He was in complete control offensively, tying his career-high of 21 points.
Brown dominated the first half, and Wooten stole the show in the second. All of Wooten’s seven block showed how athletic he is. The Ducks held Washington to 40 points, the lowest allowed in Altman’s tenure, and Wooten was key to keeping Washington to getting to the basket, even when they kept coming.
“I don’t understand why they do that,” Wooten said. “I do question it.”
It was clear he was in Washington’s head. Even when he didn’t get the block he changed the shot.
“Not only the seven blocks, but I saw three or four others where they were looking for him,” Altman said. “[Washington] just changed shots inside. He was special tonight.”
Despite the seven impressive blocks, Wooten’s most impressive one didn’t count. He jumped over Oregon guard Payton Pritchard and blocked the shot, but Pritchard was called for the foul, so the block didn’t count.
“I wanted it real bad,” Wooten said. ” I really wanted that block. I wanted to get 10 today.”
Wooten and Brown have been inconsistent this season, especially Wooten, so tonight was a positive for the Ducks. If the two perform like this for the rest of the season, the Ducks are in a position to make a run in the Pac-12. But they’re freshman, so Altman doesn’t expect this form them every night.
While Brown can score, Wooten can clean up defensively.
The two freshman live together, and at the postgame podium they were joking and laughing. It would be hard not to be in a good mood after their performances.
“They’re fun to work with,” Altman said. “I get frustrated with them, impatient at times. Watching them play that hard tonight, you get a little better feeling.”
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917
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