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Oregon Basketball

How Did We Get Here?

March 27, 2019
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The Oregon men’s basketball team has run off an impressive winning streak to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth time under head coach Dana Altman.

While winning eight straight games going into the NCAA Tournament isn’t unprecedented, the way Oregon performed a 180-degree course correction in its season after three consecutive losses is rare. The clear catalyst to the turnaround has been an increased defensive focus and effort by the entire team.

To go along with its stout defense down the stretch, Oregon has seen a substantial increase in offensive production from veteran leaders Payton Pritchard, Paul White and Ehab Amin. I wanted to look at how Oregon got to this point from a statistical standpoint and compare that with what I have seen on the court.

Arizona State: The streak began February 28 as the second-place Sun Devils came to Eugene. ASU had won five of its last seven and was looking to cement its place at the top of the Pac-12.

Oregon went on to stifle the Sun Devil offense. ASU scored only 51 points, a season low, on 17/53 shooting from the field, good for just 32 percent. Oregon held them to 3/24 shooting from three-point land and forced the Devils into 14 turnovers.

From the 1-minute mark in the first half to 14:21 remaining in the second, Oregon outscored Arizona State 14-0. After a made three by ASU cut the lead to 17, Oregon did not let the lead become any fewer for the final 14 minutes of play, closing out the 79-51 victory.

On the flip side, Oregon was 30/61 from the field (49.2 percent) and 9/25 from three. The Ducks also outrebounded Arizona State 44-26, including 15 offensive rebounds.

As a team, Oregon recorded 14 assists and 9 steals. The Ducks were led by Louis King and Pritchard, who had 19 and 18 points respectively.

Arizona: Oregon played even better against Arizona, allowing just 47 points to the Wildcats, again a season low for an opponent. Arizona shot 15/48 (31 percent) from the field, 8/24 (33 percent) from three and 9/18 from the line. They had only 7 assists to 15 turnovers in the game.

After starting hot and building a 9-0 over the first four minutes of the game, Arizona allowed Oregon to go on a 25-5 run in the next 9 minutes of the first half. After coming back to tie the game at halftime and taking a brief lead with 18 minutes to go, Arizona was out scored 40-12 to finish the game.

Oregon wasn’t sharp offensively, shooting just 27/61 (44 percent) from the field and 8/22 from deep. The 15 turnovers forced allowed for easy buckets, and Oregon took advantage of their trips to the free throw line, converting 11 of 14 attempts.

The Ducks had four players in double figures with King scoring 14, Pritchard 12, Will Richardson 12 and Francis Okoro 10. Kenny Wooten and Pritchard set the tone defensively. Wooten recorded 3 blocks while Pritchard accounted for 4 steals.

The Ducks turned the ball over only 3 times against the Wildcats and tallied 9 assists.

Washington State: In the final road trip of the season, Oregon headed to Pullman to take on Wazzu.

The Cougars were able to score on the Ducks more successfully than either Arizona school -- 61 points on 21/50 (42 percent) shooting. Washington State converted 6/18 threes while capitalizing on 13/16 free throws.

The Achilles' heel for Wazzu was turnovers: 17. At the 14-minute mark of the second half, Washington State was able to close the lead to 9 at 46-37. Oregon went on a 13-4 run over the next 5 minutes to take an 18-point lead and never looked back.

White and Pritchard led the way for Oregon. White tallied 21 points and 6 rebounds on 8/13 shooting and 4/5 three-point attempts. Pritchard finished with 15 points on 7/12 shooting to go along with 7 assists and 3 steals.

Victor Bailey Jr. paced the bench with 14 points on 5/8 shooting and 4/5 from deep, providing a much-needed spark.

Washington: The final game of the regular season was a matchup with the regular season champion conference: rival Washington.

The Oregon defense was again up to the challenge holding the Huskies to 47 points, their lowest output on the season, on 16/48 (33 percent) shooting and just 3/20 from downtown. Washington had just 4 assists and 15 turnovers. While the Huskies did have 8 steals and forced 16 Oregon turnovers, they were unable to capitalize on the mistakes.

After a slow first five minutes of the game that saw Oregon leading 8-6, Washington failed to score for the next 6 minutes – a 10-0 Oregon run. Despite getting the deficit to within 3 twice in the second half, Oregon was able to build its lead back up to 8 points. Over the last 3 minutes of the game, Oregon went on a 7-0 run to it out of reach.

Pritchard again led the way for Oregon with 15 points on 5/10 shooting, plus 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 5 steals. Capping a four-game win streak to end conference play, by now Pritchard had seemingly turned the corner on a previously shaky junior season.

As a team, Oregon did not shoot the ball well against a good Husky defense -- just 43 percent (21/49) for the game and an abysmal 9/17 from the free throw line. And yet, Oregon spoiled the Huskies' “senior night” with a swarming defense and by outrebounding UW 37-28.

First round, Pac-12 Tourney: In a second matchup in seven days, Washington State could was unable to overcome poor shooting and turnovers. Going 16/52 (30 percent) from the field and 7/32 from three, Wazzu scored just 51 points against a Duck team that forced 20 turnovers.

After going up 3-0 to start the game, the Cougars gave up 18 unanswered points over the next 10 minutes and game was already out of reach. To make matters worse, Oregon opened the second half on a 14-2 run over 6 minutes of action.

Oregon was led by the energy and effort of grad transfer Amin. With 17 points on 5/7 shooting, including 3 threes, and 2 steals, Amin was the spark plug for both the Ducks' defense and offense. Freshman Miles Norris had his best game as a Duck, finishing with 14 points on 6/10 shooting in the blowout.

Quarterfinals, Pac-12 Tourney: Oregon displayed more stellar perimeter defense, shutting down the Utah guards. Utah scored only 54 points and shot just 34 percent (18/53) from the field and a god-awful 2/23 from three.

After making a run to end the first half and take a 6-point lead into the break, Utah went cold to start the second half and allowed a 6-0 run for Oregon to tie the game with 17:29 to play. Oregon then went on a 14-6 run over a 6-minute stretch that seemed to deflate Utah. Oregon also ended the game on a 14-7 run.

King had 20 points and 7 rebounds, while Pritchard totaled 20 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. The Ducks shot 44 percent (25/57) from the field and 80 percent (12/15) from the line.

Okoro led the way defensively with a career high 6 blocks and two steals.

Semifinals, Pac-12 Tourney: In the closest game of Oregon’s win streak, Arizona State was able to put up 75 points in an overtime loss. Shooting 40 percent (22/55) for the game and 8/18 from three, Arizona State was able to score on Oregon like no one else had over the past six games. Oregon survived thanks in large part to the Sun Devils' 14 turnovers, compared to just 8 for Oregon.

After going on a 16-3 run to start the second half, ASU allowed Oregon to claw its way back over the next 12 minutes to eventually tie the game with 1:35 to play. At the start of overtime, Oregon was able to carry that momentum and go on a 9-1 run during the first two minutes.

The Ducks were led again by Pritchard, who accounted for 18 points and 8 assists to just one turnover. Despite sustaining an ankle injury, King battled his way to 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Paul White hit some big shots and finished with 14 points and 7 boards while knocking down 4 triples.

Wooten and Amin were stalwarts on defense, as usual. Wooten had four blocks against the Sun Devils, while Amin had 3 steals to go along with 13 points and 6 rebounds. As impressive as his stats were, there was so much that Amin did that did not show up in the stat sheet.

Finals, Pac-12 Tourney: “Exactly what we wanted.” Those were the infamous last words of David Crisp before Oregon came out and took it to Washington to take the tournament title.

For the second time in a week, Oregon held Washington to less than 50 points -- the only team to do that all season. Totaling just 48 points on 18/54 (33 percent) shooting and 5/23 (21 percent) from 3, the Huskies were never able to get in a rhythm offensively thanks to Oregon’s smothering defense.

After a back-and-forth first half that saw the Ducks take a 2-point lead into intermission, Washington was held scoreless for more than 7 minutes as Oregon took a 44-28 lead with 10 minutes to play. From that point on, the closest Washington was able to get was within 13 points; Oregon cruised to a 20-point win and earned a berth in the Big Dance.

Oregon was led by tournament MVP Pritchard's 20 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals – and a rare, exclamation point dunk. Pritchard was 7/9 from the field and was masterful running the offense and creating havoc in the passing lanes.

King chipped in 15 points while continuing to battle through a bum ankle, and White added 14. Wooten again controlled the paint for Oregon, pulling down 7 rebounds and blocking 4 shots.

First Round, NCAA: The Oregon defense again was the difference, holding the higher-seeded Badgers to just 33 percent (20/60) shooting from the field and 6/20 from three.

On top of that, Wisconsin star Ethan Happ was held below his season averages in all statistical categories and did not register an assist for only the second time all season. Happ also accounted for 5 of the Badgers 13 turnovers and had 3 of his shot attempts blocked.

While the Badgers was able to crash the offensive glass effectively and gather 16 boards on that end, they did not convert them into second-chance points at a decent rate. In a game that had been close throughout, Oregon was able to take a 5-point lead with 6:26 to play and go on an 18-2 run over the next 5 minutes to put the Badgers away.

Pritchard, King and White led the way offensively for the Ducks with 19, 17 and 14 points respectively. Pritchard and King did their damage in the first half, while White came out red hot after the intermission. Pritchard had 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, but uncharacteristically, he also turned the ball over 7 times.

Wooten continued his dominance of the paint with 4 more blocks, 6 rebounds and 9 points to go along with a few highlight reel plays. As a team, Oregon shot 55 percent (28/51) from the field and 7/15 from three.

Round of 32, NCAA: Against the University of California at Irvine, Oregon was again able to hold its opponent under 40 percent shooting. Irvine combined to shoot 21/51 and just 5/18 from three. The Anteaters also had 15 turnovers to just 6 assists.

The Ducks were able to limit the effectiveness of Irvine's star players, holding Max Hazzard to 7 points on 3/11 shooting and 1/8 from deep. After finishing the first half on an 18-8 run to take a 12-point lead, Oregon allowed Irvine to go on a 14-0 run to start the second half. After being stymied for most of the first half it appeared Irvine had found its shooting stroke.

The Ducks, however, responded with an 8-0 run of their own to take a 43-37 lead with 11:13 to play. After an Anteater 3, Oregon went on another 22-7 run over the next 7 minutes to put the game out of reach.

Oregon was effective from deep, going 13/25 (52 percent), and 27/59 (46 percent) overall. They also had 14 assists to only 7 turnovers.

Wooten and Amin led the way again. Wooten had a career game with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 7 blocks. Amin came in and did what he does best: create havoc and irritate the opponent. The grad transfer finished with 12 points on 4/4 shooting from deep -- including a banked three as the shot clock expired – to go with 6 rebounds, 3 steals and countless more tipped balls. Oregon likely doesn’t earn a trip to the Sweet 16 with out him.

Pritchard and King continued to lead the offense. Pritchard tallied 18 points and 7 assists on 7/18 shooting and 2/5 from 3, with each one coming in clutch situations. King had 16 points on 5/10 shooting and4/7 from deep.

During the run to the Sweet 16, Oregon is giving up an average of 56.6 PPG on 34.8 percent shooting, 23.8 percent from deep, and forcing 15 turnovers to just 9 assists. Oregon on the other hand is averaging 72.1 PPG on 47.4 percent, 38.5 percent from three, with 12 assists to 10 turnovers.

The success of the insertion of Okoro into the starting lineup cannot be overstated at this point. While he doesn’t play much more than 20 minutes per game, he brings the same energy and fire every time he is on the court. Then once he comes out and is on the bench, he is still the most vocal player on the court rooting for his teammates. Little things like that are contagious. Between Okoro and Amin, Oregon has tremendous glue guys who are both unafraid to get their noses dirty and go the extra mile to make a play to ignite this team.

The defensive statistics show just how lethal this team has been over the 10-game winning streak. Every time Oregon has needed a play, or an opponent had rallied to take the lead, the Ducks have had a run in them that led them to victory. Those runs were all started on the defensive end of the floor and created easy transition opportunities for the offense.

My biggest takeaway from reviewing the stats was that they coincided with what I was seeing on the court. The defense is clearly leading the way, but Oregon has been able to capitalize on its defense to create scoring runs – and that is what has set this team apart from where it was just four short weeks ago.

Outside of the overtime game against Arizona State, every single game saw a run where Oregon blew the lid off a close game. And even then, being able to start off overtime on a 9-1 run after scraping their way back into the game and not allowing their season to be over is a testament to these young men and their will to keep winning.

Payton Pritchard 16.3 PPG, 48.5 percentFG, 35.5 percent3FG, 75 percentFT, 3.7REB, 5.4AST, 2.5STL, 1.8TOLouis King 14.2PPG, 44.3 percentFG, 42 percent3FG, 84 percentFT,5.2REB, 1.5AST, 1.1STL, 2TOPaul White 10.3PPG, 43.3 percentFG, 37.8 percent3FG, 66.7 percentFT, 4REB, 1.2AST, 0.6BLK, 1.1STL, 0.9TOKenny Wooten 5.7PPG, 62 percentFG, 33 percentFT, 5.3REB,2.8BLK, 0.5STL, 1.4TOFrancis Okoro 4.6PPG, 46 percentFG, 53 percentFT, 5REB, 0.7BLK, 0.8TOEhab Amin 8PPG, 46.3 percentFG, 45.8 percent3FG, 64.3 percentFT, 3.7REB, 0.7AST, 1.5STL, 0.9TOWill Richardson 6.7PPG, 44 percentFG, 27.7 percent3FG, 72 percentFT, 2.1REB, 2.1AST, 1STL, 1.8TO

Tags: Basketball
 
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