In what was could have been an electric comeback, the Oregon Ducks were unable to recover from an abysmal first half of play against their in state rivals, the Oregon State Beavers.
Oregon men's basketball (9-5, 0-1 Pac-12) was unsuccessful to win to open up Pac-12 conference play, which they were picked to be the champions. Oregon State won only their second game in Eugene in nine years in the 351st Civil War matchup, Saturday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
Here are three takeaways from Oregon’s 77-72 loss:
A tale of two halves
Oregon is no stranger to finding itself down in the first half of games and attempting to make a late push. Tonight was no different.
Oregon wasn't able to generate offense in the first half, ending the half with a 33.3 shooting percentage along with a 36.4 3-point percentage. Oregon ended the first half going 1-of-11 and not scoring a single basket for the final two minutes and 24 seconds of the first half.
“We dug ourselves a big hole with a lot of bad shots, poor ball movement and poor execution in the first half,” head coach Dana Altman said.
The Beavers came out with energy on the offensive end in the first half. Oregon State shot 51.6 percent from the field. Oregon State finished the first half on a 13-3 run in the final five minutes and 47 seconds led by Tres Tinkle. Tinkle had 12 points in the first half and finished the game with 28 points.
Oregon quickly found itself down 18 early on in the second half. The Ducks changed to a press defense to counter the Beavers offensive attack.
Oregon used its defense to muster an 10-0 run against the Beavers to take a late lead in the second half off of Louis Kings two free throws.
Shortly after that Oregon was unable to develop any offense, not scoring for the final two minutes and 42 seconds of the game. Oregon State finished the game on a 6-0 run.
Dana Altman played four freshmen (Louis King, Francis Okoro, Will Richardson and Miles Norris) on Saturday night, with only eight players on scholarship who are fit to play.
King was the one freshman who shined with his play, finishing the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought offensively in the second half he did some good things," Altman said. "He took a big step.”
Besides King, the other three freshmen only scored a combined six points to finish the game. The freshmen who played Saturday have not seen much action all season. Richardson leads the freshmen with 22.7 minutes per game.
Wounded (and transferred) Ducks
Oregon visibly missed Kenny Wooten and Bol Bol tonight, Oregon had no inside protection. Oregon State had 34 points in the paint to end the game and 24 of those came in the first half. The Beavers also had 13 layups and three dunks.
“Our team early had a defense identity and right now we don't," Altman said. "We gave up a lot of easy baskets that a lot of good defensive teams don’t.”
Oregon does not only miss Bol and Wooten but also Abu Kigab, who announced he was transferring earlier this week. Those three combine for 30.2 points, 17.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks, with Bol leading all of those categories.
Oregon will look to adjust to life without its top recruit and top defensive player in Bol ahead of its matchup against UCLA on Jan. 6 in Eugene.
“We have to figure out what is our identity,” senior forward Paul White said. “Or else our season is down the drain.”
Follow Gabriel on Twitter @gabe_ornelas