Eugene, Oregon---The Oregon Ducks kept their poise in the second half after being down 39-29 at halftime, to defeat the Washington State Cougars on Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena, 68-61.
Critical to the Ducks win was stopping the hot 3-point shooting of which the Cougars displayed in the first half. WSU was 7-13 in the first half from the 3-point line, but that effectiveness went south in the second half, as the Cougs went 0-11 from the 3 point line.
The sloppy game was not what Oregon head coach Dana Altman expected to see, from his Pac-12 leading Ducks. "Despite the win, we still have lots of work to do. We just can't show up and expect to win and this group knows that," said Altman after the game.
The first half, the Ducks were on the court, but they did not show up. They played poor defense, lacked intensity and had only six assists. But whatever Altman told his team at halftime worked, as the second half was a much better performance for Oregon, outscoring Washington State 39-22 and having 12 assists in the half, showing some great ball movement.
Not Cougar star Brock Motum, but instead Mike Ladd was the best player on the floor all night for WSU, finishing with 19 points and a team high eight rebounds. Oregon was led in scoring by senior captain, E.J. Singler with 19 points. Arsalan Kazemi had another solid game for Oregon with 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Sometimes games are won ugly by quality teams, but Altman was not buying any of it. "It was a tale of two halves, in the first half we did not come out with any energy or fire, but in the second half we picked it up, with the strong work of E.J. and Arsalan," Altman said. "In order to be a quality team, we can't go to the light switch often. We have to play with the same intensity and energy, both halves, not just one, as we did tonight."
With the win, Oregon stands alone at the top of the Pac-12 with an 6-0 record, 17-2 on the road. Washington State goes to 1-5 in league and 10-9 overall.
Crawford's Notes---Really disappointing to see 6,900 fans in the stands, not to mention for most part they were silent often, especially the students.....A 6-0 start means not only standing alone atop the Pac-12, but also 6-0 was last accomplished by an Oregon Ducks men's team in conference play in 1926. The conference was the Pacific Coast Conference and the Ducks were not the Ducks in 1926, but the Oregon Webfoots....Altman really expects a tough game from Washington on Saturday, as the Huskies are healthy for the first time this season and he also loves their athleticism, especially from their wing players, Suggs and C.J. Wilcox.... Based on tonight's game, the Ducks better be ready every night, as it has been a long time since Oregon has been a target for every team in the league and the bottom feeders' Super Bowl....It is also rather obvious, the Pac-12 is so improved as a league this year, every night will be a huge battle no matter who the opponent.