Two and a half minutes into the second half, Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard ripped the ball from Fresno State guard Jarred Hyder and dished it ahead to his former high school teammate and New Mexico State transfer Anthony Mathis. Mathis converted a layup and extended the Ducks lead to 15 points as Fresno State called a timeout to curb the Ducks momentum. Chest bumps and high fives ensued from the former West Linn duo, reminiscent of their high school days.
“Its surreal to wear this Duck jersey with him and get back to doing what we love.” Mathis said.
As they walked towards the huddle, the familiar “Shout” tune began to come through the speakers as the crowd took their feet and Matt Knight Arena came alive.
With the win, Oregon head coach Dana Altman became the winningest coach in Oregon men's basketball history.
Payton Pritchard showcases his veteran pedigree
The senior guard showed Mathew Knight Arena why he deserves to be in the conversation for the nation’s best point guard.
“He’s one of the best point guards in the country,” said Mathis. “I know that, because I’ve seen it first hand.”
Pritchard poured in 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists along with a pair of steals. He declared for the NBA Draft last summer but decided to return to the Ducks for his senior season. Pritchard handled the ball and pressure exactly how Altman expected him to. Setting an example for the new players and being aggressive on both ends of the floor.
Even more impressively, Pritchard attacked the rim all night. All of the guard’s points came inside the three-point line or at the freethrow line.
Three pointers were a rarity in the Ducks victory. Both teams found it hard to shoot the ball from beyond the three point line. The NCAA recently implemented new rules this offseason, including moving the three point line back almost five inches to match international regulations. A Fresno State team who was 24th in the nation last season for three point percentage, shot a measly 25 percent on nine of 36 from beyond the arc. The Ducks made just a single three pointer, going one for 13 on the night.
An early glimpse at the Ducks’ rotation
Altman played nine players, but still has no idea what the rotation will look like moving forward. Beyond veterans like Pritchard, Okoro and Will Richardson the Ducks will have questions regarding the lineup, which will need answering soon. Francis Okoro, one of the teams only true and eligible centers played 28 minutes and recorded his first career double-double. Chris Duarte and Pritchard were the only players who saw at least thirty minutes of action.
“We have no idea,” Altman said. “Nothing has been decided. It’ll be different Saturday, it'll be different next Tuesday.”
Altman relied on the upperclassmen as Pritchard, Mathis, Duarte, Shakur Juiston and Okoro assembled the starting lineup. The freshman duo of CJ Walker, Addison Patterson and Chandler Lawson notably struggled.
Rotational uncertainty could be worrisome as the Ducks play just one final game before heading to Portland next week to play a very talented Memphis squad in the Phil Knight Invitational.