Moda test from Memphis next for Oregon men
The nationally ranked Oregon men's basketball team arrives at Moda Center with a 2-0 record after an encouraging Saturday thumping of Boise State.
But the test at 6 p.m. Tuesday, as part of a doubleheader with Oregon State promoted as the Phil Knight Invitational, figures to be much more informative than home wins over Fresno State and Boise State to open the season.
The clash between the Penny Hard-away- coached Memphis Ti-gers (2-0) and the Ducks features teams ranked Nos. 13 and 14, respec- tively, in this week's Associated Press poll. on's top recruiting class in 2019.
Topping the list is James Wiseman. The 7-1 center from Nashville is a possible No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft. The NCAA last week ruled Wiseman likely ineligible because Hardaway, now the Memphis coach, paid more than $11,000 to Wiseman's family for its move to Memphis.
Wiseman played on Friday after a judge issued an injunction that is in effect through a hearing scheduled for Nov. 18, so it appears Wiseman will play Tuesday. That's good for local basketball fans but creates a tough matchup for the Ducks, especially if 6-9 sophomore Francis Okoro is unable to play. Okoro, who recorded his first double-double (10 points, 10 boards) in Oregon's season opener against Fresno State, was hit by a car on Friday outside Matthew Knight Arena. Coach Dana Altman said Okoro is okay but sore and day-to-day in terms of his availability.
"We're not very big, especially if Francis isn't in there," Altman said. "We'll have to play really hard, run the floor really hard."
As has become the norm at Oregon, Ducks fans will be introduced to a new team on Tuesday. Three players on this roster — most notably senior guard Payton Pritchard — contributed to last season's Sweet 16 team. Okoro and sophomore guard Will Richardson are the other returnees of note.
Kenny Wooten, Louis King and Bol Bol entered the NBA draft, and Victor Bailey Jr and Miles Norris transferred. Altman restocked with four transfers, including West Linn's Anthony Mathis. The graduate transfer scored 30 points and made 9 of 11 3-pointers against Boise State.
Shakur Juiston, a 6-7 forward, is a graduate transfer from UNLV who had 16 points and nine assists on 8-of-10 shooting against Boise State.
Chris Duarte, a 6-6 junior guard, was the national junior college player of the year last season. He had 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the season-opening win over Fresno State.
The heralded five-player freshman class includes 6-6 guard Addison Patterson, 6-8 forwards Chandler Lawson, C.J. Walker and Lok Wur, and 6-11 center N'Fale Dante. Dante, who reclassified to the 2019 graduating class, hopes to gain eligibility in mid-December.
After non-scoring in the opener against Fresno State, the freshmen played with more confidence and helped make up for the absence of Okoro in Saturday's win. Patterson hit all seven of his shots and finished with seven points. Lawson had eight points, nine rebounds and two steals off the bench. Walker started but was limited to 11 minutes because of foul trouble against Boise State.
Altman was unhappy with the way his team closed out Saturday's win after building a 40-point lead. But he was encouraged by the energy and enthusiasm his Ducks displayed against an experienced Boise team that has given the Ducks fits in recent seasons.
"A great step," Altman said after the 106-75 rout of the Broncos.
Memphis, with its athletes and length, presents a next-level challenge.
"We know they're talented. They are a gifted team," Altman said.
Memphis freshman guard Boogie Ellis, a one-time Duke commit who scored 22 points in Friday's victory over Illinois-Chicago, was a recruiting target of the Ducks. The all-freshmen starting five for Hardaway in the first two games included 6-9 forward Precious Achiuwa, 6-5 guard Lester Quinones and 6-3 guard Damion Baugh.
"It's a tough game to get ready for in two days," Altman said.
Memphis is part of a challenging November for Oregon, which was picked by media to win the Pac-12, just ahead of Colorado, Washington and Arizona. The Ducks will play host to Houston on Nov. 22 and end the month at the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas. Oregon will open that tournament against Seton Hall. Oregon's second opponent will be Gonzaga or Southern Mississippi. The other side of the bracket includes North Carolina, Alabama, Michigan and Iowa State.
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