For the past 19 seasons, Oregon basketball has opened with a home court win.
In Friday’s game against Coppin State (0-1), the Ducks (1-0) added to the streak with a 70-54 victory over the Eagles to officially begin their 2017-18 season.
After a lead of 28 at the half, Oregon seemed to fall victim to first-game nerves as they let the Eagles get within 10 points in the last three minutes of play.
“It was a really bad first showing,” sophomore guard Payton Pritchard said. “Defensively, the second half was terrible. But you know it is our first game and given the team, that’s no excuse.”
As the top returner in all but one statistical category, Pritchard played a significant role in tonight’s game as he led the team in rebounds and assists.
Surprisingly, Roman Sorkin led the team in points with a career-high 23.
Sorkin had a heated 15 minutes of play in the first half. Highlighted by 18 points, he led the team throughout the first half and kept it through the second, only missing one of his nine total shots.
“Any guy can step up and have a big shooting night like Roman did,” Pritchard said. “We needed it, and he stepped up and made his threes. I’m happy for him.”
Sorkin’s momentum was slowed as he reached four personal fouls with 16:13 left in the second half and scored four additional points for the team.
A mere six-and-a-half minutes into the game, Oregon ran with a 12-0 run and kept Coppin State down to a 14.3 shooting percentage to end the first half.
Five-star recruit Troy Brown’s first regular season game for the Ducks proved he’s got moves. Brown danced his way through the crowded paint numerous times in the first half and scored the first basket for the Ducks.
However, Brown’s good first impression in the first half was short-lived as he shot 1-of-5 in the second, missing multiple three-point attempts. He ended the game with 18 points and five rebounds in his total 32 minutes of play.
The Ducks came back on the court in the second half and quickly saw their defense slip away as their lack of communication made way for Coppin State to score 44 points off of 29 total shots.
“A lot of nervous energy out there tonight,” head coach Dana Altman said. “We knew that was going to be a problem here early on, but tonight it really was. Our mentality just has to change. Our discipline, our attention to detail, our rules — we are just out there, we got to think about getting the ball back and go.”
The Ducks will look to reorganize as they play their next three games at home, starting with Prairie View A&M this Monday at 6 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni