As the game clock wound down, Washington looked desperate to grab a basket. They had scored only 38 points. The Ducks defense had shut them down.
One game after Stanford handed Oregon head coach Dana Altman his biggest loss as the Ducks’ head coach, Oregon’s defense held Washington to 28 percent shooting in the Ducks’ 65-40 win over the Huskies, improving Oregon’s record to 16-8 and 6-5 in Pac-12 play. Behind Troy Brown’s 21 points and Kenny Wooten’s seven blocks, the Ducks were looking strong on both ends of the court, but it was the defense that was most improved.
“For me personally I felt like it was a great win,” Brown said. “At this point I feel like the Stanford loss gave us an awakening at this point in time in conference play. Right now we need to get back on board. We needed that win.”
Washington’s 40 points is the second-lowest total the Ducks have held a team to at Matt Knight Arena since they kept Idaho State to 35 in 2012.
In all four of Oregon’s most recent wins, the Ducks have been better in the first half than the second, both offensively and defensively. Against Washington, they were much better on both sides of the ball.
Oregon’s defense held Washington to under 31 percent shooting in the first half, and the second half did not see much better as the Huskies went 25 percent on 7-of-28 shooting.
“That’s always our game plan is to come out playing defense really hard. Just to set the tone,” Brown said. “Earlier in the year we were having some problems with that but as of lately we’ve been coming out strong and just trying to keep that same mentality throughout the whole game, and I felt like we did a good job with that today.”
The Ducks kept Washington’s leading scorer on the season, Noah Dickerson, to 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Dickerson scored 23 points against both Arizona schools last weekend.
“Dickerson has been really hurting people inside,” Altman said. “He was the guy we were most concerned about going inside because he did a wonderful job last week.”
The first half saw both teams go on scoring droughts for more than four minutes at a time. In the second half, Oregon figured it out, but Washington still had trouble, missing its final nine field goal attempts while Oregon finished the game on a 17-2 run.
Wooten’s seven blocks were just two shy of Chris Boucher’s Oregon record of nine. He was emulating that blocking presence from last year’s Oregon team that was led to the Final Four by shot-blockers Boucher and Jordan Bell.
“I wanted to learn from them, but then they left,” Wooten said. “I talk to Jordan Bell a lot and he tells me what to do in order to be successful.”
The Ducks allowed just 24 points from inside the paint, much of that thanks to Wooten. Washington went 6-of-22 on layup attempts.
Oregon’s defense will have to stay consistent with a matchup against Washington State on Sunday followed by a trip to Southern California.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow