| Improving Ducks Defense Dominates Wazzu- Feb.9, 2015 (by Carl)|
Oregon head coach Dana Altman has voiced his displeasure with his team's defensive effort all season, but on Sunday, Altman admitted that he saw improvement in a 95-72 rout over Washington State.'It was better effort,' said Altman. 'I think we made some strides. I thought it was a step in the right direction.' The Ducks dominated from start to finish on Sunday. They opened with a 12-0 run and led 28-4 with less than 10 minutes left in the first half. Oregon took a 52-28 lead into the lock... [read more]
Oregon head coach Dana Altman has voiced his displeasure with his team's defensive effort all season, but on Sunday, Altman admitted that he saw improvement in a 95-72 rout over Washington State.
'It was better effort,' said Altman. 'I think we made some strides. I thought it was a step in the right direction.'
The Ducks dominated from start to finish on Sunday. They opened with a 12-0 run and led 28-4 with less than 10 minutes left in the first half. Oregon took a 52-28 lead into the locker room, as Joseph Young (6'2''-G-92) paced the offense with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Washington State was just 8-of-27 from the field (29.6%) and committed 10 turnovers in the opening half.
'I was really pleased with our activity in the first half,' said Altman. 'I thought our guys really flew around.'
Oregon was outscored 44-43 in the second half, but the game was never in doubt. Washington State never got within 19 points and was unable to spark any momentum after falling behind early.
Young continued his strong play after scoring 32 points against Washington with a near triple-double. He scored 29 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished eight assists on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting. Young was in total control, finding his own offense, creating for others, and had a highlight with a left-handed slam after beating his defender off the bounce.
'He had a really good game,' Altman said of Young. 'There were three or four plays in the first half where he really went and got the boards. That really helped our zone and got us going.'
Dwayne Benjamin added his best performance of the season, as he filled a starting role exceptionally due to a one game suspension from Jordan Bell. The 6-foot-7 forward was nearly perfect from the floor, scoring 25 points on 10-of-11 shooting, and hit all three attempts from behind the arc. Benjamin showed his ability to attack the rim in the halfcourt and also had two alley-oop dunks in transition.
'I was really happy for him tonight,' Altman said of Benjamin. 'He really filled in and did a great job. He earned more minutes from that performance and he's been earning it in practice. He's been doing a good job the past couple weeks trying to get himself more prepared, a little more used to the grind that goes on with a Division I program. It really paid off for him today.'
Dexter Kernich-Drew led the Cougars with 18 points off the bench. Sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson added 14 points and 11 rebounds while DaVonte Lacy - the conference's fourth-leading scorer - was limited to 13 points.
' (Lacy) really hurt us at their place and we just didn't want to give him easy looks,' said Altman. 'He's a player where when he gets going - not only against us but against everybody - he's a very good scorer. He's a guy that's been around forever and has scored a lot of baskets so we didn't want him to get going.'
Washington State head coach Ernie Kent, who coached the Ducks for 13 seasons, had his homecoming spoiled, as the Cougars have now lost six of their last seven. They fall to 10-13 on the year with a 4-7 mark in Pac-12 play, but finish with five home games in their last seven of the regular season. While Washington State won't be a tournament team, Kent has already matched the overall win total and topped the conference total from last year's squad.
Oregon has now boosted its win streak to three games and has won five of its last six. The Ducks have a tough stretch to end the season, with five of its last seven on the road, but are now looking like a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament. If the Ducks continue to improve defensively and can rely on Young's scoring, they have a chance to chance to go dancing for their third straight season.
Cameron Schott is a Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball.