Ducks show just enough poise to win
The Oregon Ducks were just poised enough to hold off the freshmen phenoms from Memphis on Tuesday.
But the 82-74 win for the 15th-ranked Ducks over the 14th-ranked Tigers as part of the Phil Knight Invitational at Moda Center could have come a lot easier had Oregon valued the basketball more.
Memphis scored 25 points off of Oregon turnovers and had 24 second-chance points.
"Usually when you see those things you don't have a very good outcome," Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
Shakur Juiston led Oregon with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Payton Pritchard had 14 points and six assists but also six of Oregon's 18 turnovers.
Pritchard scored 10 points in the final five minutes, though, draining a pair of timely 3-pointers to keep the Ducks out of reach.
Sophomore guard Will Richardson also canned a crucial triple as Oregon's 3-point shooting allowed the Ducks to overcome their mistakes and improve to 3-0.
West Linn High graduate Anthony Mathis again was hot from 3-point range, hitting 4 of 5 on his way to 12 points. Foul trouble limited the graduate transfer to 26 minutes.
Besides the win, the best news for Oregon was that junior Chris Duarte seemed to be okay after crumpling to the floor in the first half. He tried to play at the start of the second half, but left after one possession. Altman said it appeared to only be a bruised knee for the 2018-19 national junior college player of the year
Memphis fell to 2-1, despite the late-game impact of 7-1 freshman James Wiseman. He has become the focus of the college basketball world after the NCAA changed its decision and announced Wiseman is not eligible because coach Penny Hardaway — before he was coaching the Tigers — paid $11,500 to help Wiseman's family move to Memphis. Tuesday was the second time Wiseman has played since a judge issued an injunction, but he was limited by foul trouble, playing five minutes in the first half and getting 21:44 of playing time for the game.
He finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and a blocked shot. Most of Wiseman's impact came down the stretch as his activity on the offensive glass caused the shorter Ducks fits.
"He's just an unbelievable talent," Altman said. "A lot of those rebounds were late when they really needed them to stay in the game."
Oregon packed the paint and didn't give the possible No. 1 pick in next summer's NBA draft much space to operate. And Oregon's quickness and aggressiveness on offense helped negate Wiseman's impact on defense.
Hardaway said Wiseman's early fouls were a significant factor in the Tigers needing to play catchup all night.
The Ducks did a nice job of denying the Tigers 3-point looks, and Memphis made only 4 of 23 from behind the arc (.174). With Oregon making 9 of 23 3-pointers, the 15-point difference allowed the Ducks to win despite their sloppy ball-handling and missing 12 of their 27 free throws.
"We fought really hard. I'm proud of the team," Hardaway said. "You can take a lot of good from this. (Oregon's) veteran guards prevailed in the end though."
Juiston, the 6-7 senior transfer from UNLV, had nine points and eight boards in the first half on his way to the double-double. His energy and activity was at times contagious for the Ducks.
"He did a really good job other than a couple turnovers that really hurt us," Altman said. "He got a couple things inside that got his motor going. Defensively he was pretty aware. He did miss some block-outs late. I think he was fatigued and didn't put a body on anybody."
It was an emotional game for Oregon freshman Chandler Lawson, a Memphis native who grew up with several of the Tigers and was coached by Hardaway. The 6-8 forward had eight points and four rebounds.
"Fun playing against some of my teammates and some of my friends from back home because now I've got bragging rights," Lawson said.
Good news for Oregon was the return of 6-9 sophomore Francis Okoro to the lineup. Okoro had seven points and nine rebounds and drew a foul on Wiseman on the first possession of the game. The most physically imposing Oregon player, Okoro missed Saturday's game against Boise State because of soreness resulting from when he was hit by a car outside Matthew Knight Arena on Friday.
Eight of the nine Ducks who played scored at least seven points. Richardson was the most solid contributor and helped handle Memphis' efforts to create havoc with full-court pressure. Richardson had 10 points and six assists with only two turnovers.
Freshman Addison Patterson had seven points and two rebounds with three turnovers for Oregon.
Altman said he'll look to get the freshmen more involved as the schedule unfolds but felt he needed to go with the experience of Pritchard and his transfers to get the job done against the talented Tigers.
Oregon led by as many as 12 points in the first half and might have had control of the contest had Memphis not scored 20 points off of 11 Ducks turnovers.
Wiseman picked up two early fouls, starting with a pump-fake basket for Okoro on the first possession.
The injury to Duarte occurred with 5:12 left in the first half. He was bumped from behind during a rebound battle at the defensive end and crumpled to the court, grabbing his right knee. The athletic 6-6 junior was making a significant impact through two-plus games for the Ducks. Duarte had seven points and two rebounds in 12 minutes before the injury.
Memphis rallied to lead 31-30 thanks to four consecutive Oregon turnovers. But the Ducks responded with an 11-5 spurt over the final 3:57 of the first half to lead by six at intermission.
The Ducks will return to Matthew Knight Arena for a 5 p.m. Sunday game against Texas-Arlington. Oregon then will play host to Houston on Nov. 22 before heading to the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
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