In just under a week, No. 14 Oregon will head to New York to take part in the 2K Classic, hosted at the famed Madison Square Garden. The Ducks, along with Iowa, UConn and No. 16 Syracuse will be taking part in the Classic.
Before the Ducks fly east for the tournament, they have one more game to get ready for the competition awaiting their rival. Oregon (1-0) hosts Eastern Washington (0-1) on Friday, November 9 at 6 p.m. PT.
Last week, Oregon began the season with an 84-57 victory over Portland State. Point guard Payton Pritchard — a preseason Wooden award watch list member — scored 22 points on 6-of-7 shooting (9-of-9 from the free throw line) to lead the Ducks.
Paul White added 15 points while freshman-sensation Bol Bol finished his first college game with 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Although he was in foul trouble for most of the half, the 7-foot-2 center flashed tremendous potential of how good he can be.
“He got a cheap one there in the first half… those are the ones he’s got to delete” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said of Bol’s foul trouble. “He’s an unusual guy to officiate so he’s going to get a couple here and there that are awkward fouls.”
Playing against the Vikings, the Ducks got a taste of what type of pressure they could see in the future as Portland State likes to play an up-tempo, in-your-face style.
Although Pritchard finished with five turnovers, his ability to control the pace against a Portland State squad predicated on controlling the tempo was the difference-maker. He repeatedly attacked the Vikings big men, either finishing at the rim, getting to the free throw line or kicking out to an open teammate.
"I got to be aggressive because when I'm aggressive other people get easy looks and I get to the rim, I get to the free throw line," Pritchard said.
The Ducks shot the ball well in the season opener, despite facing relentless pressure. In the game, Oregon finished 27-of-50 (54-percent) from the field and 4-of-7 (57.1-percent) from three-point territory.
But, the much-bigger Ducks were outrebounded 41-38, giving up 25 offensive boards that led to 73 total shots by the Vikings. That can’t happen from an Oregon team that more often than not, will be the biggest on the court.
“We got to do a better job of executing,” Altman said. “Disappointed with our physicality on the boards and physicality posting up — we're going to have to do a lot better job there.”
The Eagles are coming off a 66-34 loss to Syracuse on Tuesday, a game in which they struggled against the Orangemen’s length and athleticism on defense. Eastern Washington was held to 13-of-59 (22-percent) shooting from the field and 6-of-35 (17.1-percent) form beyond the arc, turning the ball over 19 times.
"It was a good experience playing at Syracuse going into the Oregon game — they do a lot of different things defensively and they have length,” Eastern Washington head coach Shantay Legans said. “Maybe we got the rust off and some of the shock and awe of coming in against a talented Syracuse team… we want our players to get focused and go into Oregon and have a great performance."
Tyler Kidd led the Eagles with nine points against Syracuse, hitting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, while the starters combined for 15 points.
Oregon-Eastern Washington will air on the Pac-12 Networks.