When No. 18 Oregon hosted Texas Southern on Monday night, it came as no surprise that many fans left the game with one-minute to play, obviously anticipating a blowout with the heavily favored Ducks.
Instead, the fans left with their heads down, muttering “are you kidding me?” as Oregon lost 89-84 to Texas Southern. The Ducks, which entered the game 24.5-point favorites, struggled mightily to contain the more athletic Tigers and the energy and relentlessness they played with.
“There’s no way to sugarcoat this, that was a very poor performance,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “I’m not blaming them (the players), it starts with me. We haven’t lost like that in a long time, we got a lot of work to do.”
On the season, Oregon (4-2) hadn’t let a team shot more than 45-percent in a half and 40percent for a game. But that all came crashing down as Texas Southern (2-4) shot 47.8-percent (32-of-67) from the field and 33.3-percent (9-for-27) from beyond the arc.
“I thought at times in the first half, our defense was okay,” Altman said. “The second half, (giving up) 57 points kind of speaks for itself.”
The Ducks, who have lived dangerously all season by struggling with inferior teams, had no answer in the second half for Texas Southern’s offense. The Tigers shot 19-of-33 (57.6-percent) from the field and 6-of-11 (54.5-percent) from beyond the arc — not even the free throw line could stop them, as they went 13-of-17 in the half.
“We just need to figure some things out… it’s going to start in practice, but people are going to make changes,” junior Payton Pritchard said. “All five guys have got to start defending… we just don’t bring it (in practice) and it shows in games.”
Freshman Bol Bol had the best game of his young career, finishing with 32 points (13-of-22 from the field, 4-of-6 from deep) and 11 rebounds. But he struggled mightily on the defensive end, failing to be physical presence despite his 7-foot-2 height.
Pritchard finished with 14 points and seven assists, shooting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Will Richardson and Victor Bailey Jr. each contributed 13 points off the bench but only Richardson attempted any free throws in the game (going 3-for-3).
“We didn’t drive the ball to the basket, there’s a lot of places we got to go to work,” Altman said.
The Ducks appeared to have the game in control when a 10-0 run early in the second half gave them a 51-38 lead, their biggest of the game.
But from then on, Texas Southern dominated. The Tigers turned up the intensity on the defensive end and kept attacking offensively. They took their first lead, 61-59, with 10:08 to play on a dunk by Trayvon Reed (23 points, seven rebounds).
Oregon cut the deficit to two, 79-77, on two free throws by Richardson but the Tigers responded when Derrick Bruce (13 points) scored six straight.
A three-pointer by Bol, following two missed Texas Southern free throws, cut the deficit to three, 85-82, with 14 seconds to play, giving Oregon hope. But the Tigers went a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe to hold on for the win.
Texas Southern guard Jayln Patterson finished with 13 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds while John Jones (4-of-7 from deep) added 20 points off the bench.
Bad news for Oregon is when sophomore shot blocker Kenny Wooten Jr. went down in the first half, appearing to land awkwardly on his left knee. After laying on the ground for a minute, Wooten walked immediately to the locker room and didn’t return to the game.
With Wooten out, Oregon struggled mightily with Texas Southern’s physicality, despite the Ducks’ size advantage. They were outrebounded 41-32, including 11-6 on the offense glass.
“If we aren’t anymore or disciplined than that, it could be a long season,” Altman said. “
The Ducks have four days off before they travel to Texas to face Houston on Saturday. It’ll be Oregon’s first true road game of the season, and will tipoff at 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.
“This is a terrible loss honestly… this is a bad loss,” Pritchard said. “We either move on from this and get better, or we don’t.”