Oregon has a new winning streak at Matthew Knight Arena.
A week after a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Boise State ended the Ducks’ 46-game home-winning streak, Oregon got back in the win column. It wasn’t pretty to start, but the Ducks (6-3) eventually pulled away from Colorado State (4-6) for a 95-65 win on Friday night.
After a less than inspiring first half of basketball, the Ducks stepped on the Rams’ throat in the second half. Holding a 38-32 advantage entering halftime, Oregon pummeled Colorado State in the final 20 minutes to put any chance of a second straight loss at home to rest.
“The first half was kind of a grind,” said head coach Dana Altman. “The second half, I thought our depth was something [Colorado State] had trouble with.”
Troy Brown missed the Ducks’ 73-70 loss to Boise State with a concussion but returned to action on Friday night. The freshman brought it early, scoring 10 points along with 8 rebounds and three assists in the first half. Foul trouble limited him in the second, but he still finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
“We know we’re a lot better than what we’ve been proving,” said Brown. “Everybody is all on board of just making the right plays and playing defense as hard as we can.”
Brown’s spark was needed for a Ducks team that looked directionless at times through the first twenty minutes of action. Oregon struggled to find any sort of rhythm on the offensive end, and as a result, the Rams’ kept it close. Led by guard Prentiss Nixon’s 11 first-half points, Colorado State refused to give in.
The Rams, however, had no answer for the Ducks outburst in the second half. A quick 9-2 run by Oregon to start the second half forced a timeout from Colorado State.
The timeout wouldn’t halt the Ducks momentum, though. Oregon bullied its Mountain West Conference opponent in the second half, throwing down a healthy dose of dunks to pair with 7-of-13 shooting from behind the arc. After being held silent in the first half, Elijah Brown led the way in the second half, scoring 18 points and finishing with a game-high plus-35 on the night.
“I’m hoping tonight is how it is every game. That would be a big help for us,” said Payton Pritchard. “He can catch fire; that’s big for our team.”
It was an inspiring effort from Colorado State to start, but Oregon’s depth overwhelmed the Rams. Nixon didn’t get much support outside of his 25 points, while Oregon finished with six players scoring in double digits, led by Elijah Brown’s 20.
Kenny Wooten, who finished with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, brought the Matthew Knight fans to their feet with a thunderous slam that pushed the lead to 84-50. It provided extra juice to a home crowd that was already amped on a night in which new head football coach Mario Cristobal was introduced at center court.
Cristobal talked about taking the football program to the “next level” like Altman has done with his team on the hardwood. There’s still a lot of work left to be done, though, for this young Ducks squad to reach the level that prior teams have.
“Eventually throughout the season, we’re going to ‘click, click, click’ more,” said Pritchard. “It’s a work in progress. Tonight we made a big jump.”
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @CKundich