Oregon received an early-season wake up call during its 66-49 loss to Baylor on Tuesday. The Ducks missed Dillon Brooks’ scoring — shooting only 32.8 percent from the field — but that wasn’t the only thing to blame. It was obvious that Oregon would need to play better if it wanted to continue to be talked about as one of college basketball’s elite. The Ducks responded well to the challenge with a 76-54 blowout victory against Valparaiso on Thursday night to improve to 2-1 on the season.
Oregon went into the game favored by 13, but many predicted it would be a closer game than that. The Crusaders have one of the most talented scorers in the nation with Alec Peters, and with the Ducks missing their top scorer, many thought Valparaiso had a good chance to pull off the upset. Valparaiso managed to stay within single digits for almost the entire first half — despite Chris Boucher’s 18 points — and went into halftime down by only seven. It was during the second half that the Ducks truly showed what they are capable of.
Oregon outscored Valparaiso 39-24 in the second half. Chris Boucher only scored 7 more points, but the scoring was much more spread out. Jordan Bell finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Payton Pritchard showed that he will be a valuable asset off the bench, he finished with 9 points and 5 assists. He was the biggest reason that Oregon’s bench outscored Valparaiso’s bench 18-3.
Oregon did not suffer from the poor shooting that it had in the game against Baylor. The Ducks found their rhythm again, shooting 48.2 percent from the field. Oregon also hit 7-21 three-point attempts, much better than on Tuesday. However, it wasn’t the offense that won Oregon the game; It was the Ducks’ first-class defense that led to the offensive burst in the second half.
Valparaiso only shot 32.1 percent for the game, and the Ducks were not allowing many second chances. The Ducks out-rebounded the Crusaders 40-27 for the game, 25-15 on defensive rebounds. Jordan Bell and Chris Boucher each blocked 3 shots, leading to Oregon’s 10-2 advantage in fast-break points. Oregon was unable to shut down Alec Peters, who finished with 24 points, but was able to keep the rest of the Crusaders from pulling off the upset.
Oregon hopes to take the momentum from this win to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Monday. They will start the tournament off by taking on the Georgetown Hoyas (1-2). If Oregon fans are lucky, they may even get to see Dillon Brooks’ season debut next week.