Following two disappointing losses on the road against Stanford and Oregon State, No. 17 Oregon (19-6, 8-4 Pac-12) rebounded in a big way on Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena, dispatching No. 16 Colorado (19-5, 8-3 Pac-12), 68-60, in a game in which the Ducks trailed by double digits in the second half.
Oregon once again dug itself a hole, but turned up the defensive intensity down the stretch and pulled back to within one game in the Pac-12 standings with six regular season games remaining.
“It’s time,” guard Will Richardson said. “Coach has been really preaching to us that it’s now or never if we want to win a Pac-12 championship.”
Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game.
Addison Patterson’s coming-out party
Patterson was a consensus four-star prospect and top-50 high school player in the country coming out of Bella Vista Prep in Arizona, but until Thursday night, had yet to make an impact in his freshman season in Eugene. That all changed on Thursday night.
Patterson didn’t drop 30; in fact, he only played 12 minutes. But those 12 minutes changed the entire complexion of the game, and signified his first true breakthrough in an otherwise frustrating season.
“Honestly, it was hard when I first came here,” Patterson said. “It’s something that I’m not used to...but I know that Coach Altman knows what he’s doing. Everybody on the coaching staff knows what they’re doing.”
“His parents were here a couple weeks ago and I think that really helped,” head coach Dana Altman said.. “Nowadays...everybody wants to be a star. It’s hard on guys. With social media, everybody should be getting 20 [points] and everybody should be playing 35 minutes a game. That’s just not the way it works...It’s difficult.”
It may have taken longer than he may have expected, but Patterson’s energy and production will give Altman no choice but to expand his minutes as the Ducks head into critical months of the season.
Rebounding production from the guards
N’Faly Dante missed yet another game on Thursday. Francis Okoro played, but did so for just six minutes. Chandler Lawson played 17 minutes and grabbed one rebound. CJ Walker played 15 minutes and grabbed two.
And yet, the rebounding margin was just 38-35 in favor of Colorado, and that’s due entirely to the effort on the glass from Oregon’s two starting guards, Richardson and Payton Pritchard. The duo combined for 20 crucial rebounds in a game in which the team’s big men up front needed a lift.
Both posted season highs, and limiting Colorado to just 14 second-chance points helped to neutralize the Buffaloes’ distinct size advantage down low.
“It helps,” Altman said. “It’s hard when they’re pounding you on the boards. This is a very good rebounding team — one of the tops in the country, so it does make a big difference.”
Dana Altman ties John Wooden on the all-time wins list
Altman has heightened the expectations in Eugene to levels they have never been before. There’s a good chance that he’ll be a Hall of Famer when it’s all said and done.
But those things can still be true while also failing to put into perspective just how good of a career Altman has had. If nothing else, tying UCLA’s John Wooden on the all-time wins list provided that perspective.
“I’m not sure how long Coach Wooden coached,” Altman said. “29, 30 years? But I’m fortunate to be 31 years in. It’s great.”
He coached 27 seasons, not 29 or 30 like Altman suggested, but being recognized in the same class as one of the greatest coaches in sports history is not something to be taken lightly. 664 wins into a Hall of Fame career, Altman’s showing no signs of slowing down.
“Good thing they don’t put the losses with that,” Altman said, laughing.