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Charles Fischer

Dana Altman: "We Sure Showed Some Growth Tonight"

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(Press Release to Credentialed Media from Oregon Athletics)

 

LOS ANGELES — A momentous night in the career of Dana Altman was made all the more so by the circumstances of the game.

Altman coached his 700th career Division-I victory Thursday, and it came in an 84-81 overtime upset for the Oregon men's basketball team over No. 3 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. The Ducks squandered a six-point lead in the final 44 seconds of regulation but got six points from Jacob Young and five from Will Richardson in overtime to hand the Bruins their second loss of the season.

The Ducks (10-6, 3-2 Pac-12) won their fourth straight game, behind 23 points from Young to lead six scorers in double figures. His turnover led to the game-tying basket late in regulation, but he atoned with two tiebreaking buckets in overtime and a third that put Oregon up 83-79 with 24 seconds left.

"I'm really proud of the way they fought back," said Altman, whose first career D-I win was with Marshall in 1989-90. "They fought through it. We haven't fought through adversity throughout the year. But we sure showed some growth tonight.

 

Will Richardson UCLA

How It Happened: Down 35-30 at halftime, the Ducks found their stroke from three-point range and used an 11-0 run to go ahead 46-37 in the opening minutes of the second half. UCLA fought back into a tie with 9:16 to go, but a three-point play by De'Vion Harmon gave Oregon a 64-58 advantage with 6:49 left, and the lead remained six inside the final minute.

That's when things turned sour for the Ducks. The Bruins closed within four on two free throws, then used a UO turnover and two offensive rebounds to set up two more free throws and close within 73-71. Oregon inbounded with 21 seconds left and Young tried to throw a pass from his own baseline to a teammate underneath the basket, where Jaylen Clark made a steal and sunk the game-tying hoop.

For a UO men's team whose losses this season included an overtime defeat to Arizona State and a three-point loss at Stanford, the script was starting to feel familiar.

"We had a couple games where we hit a hump in the game, and we didn't really get over that hump," Richardson said. "We're a new team, and we weren't used to that yet. Last game (at Oregon State on Monday), winning that tough game on the road, it gave us confidence we could fight adversity. And we did that tonight."

The Ducks never trailed in overtime. The two teams went back-and-forth in the opening minutes, with Richardson hitting two go-ahead baskets and Young adding two more. But after UCLA had managed to tie the game after each of the first three, the Ducks got two stops on defense and then the Bruins missed two potential game-tying free throws before Young's third basket in overtime made it 83-79.

The Bruins did manage to answer that one, getting within 83-81 with 11 seconds left. Richardson made the second of two free throws at the other end for an 84-81 lead, and that held up as the final score when two desperation three-point attempts by UCLA were off the mark.

 

Jacob Young UCLA

"Really happy for the team," said Altman, the stoic UO coach who allowed himself a smile on the court postgame. "It's been a frustrating period for all of us. As a coach, a teacher, you want your guys to perform well. We've been doing C and D work, and we should be doing A and B work. As a coach, a teach, that's frustrating; for players it's frustrating. (But) they really responded tonight.

Who Stood Out: Young had 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and Richardson added 16 points with three rebounds. N'Faly Dante was solid in the post with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Eric Williams Jr. finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Quincy Guerrier added 11 points with six boards, and Harmon also reached double figures with 10 points.

What It Means: Not only did the Ducks get Altman his 700th win, but they continued to show signs of what has been a trend for Oregon men's basketball under Altman, that being steady improvement throughout the season — and particularly once Pac-12 play begins.

"The whole team's just coming along," Richardson said. "It's just fun, exciting."

Richardson said the Ducks' team chemistry has improved through recent COVID disruptions, and said he wasn't certain why that was the case. But Altman said he had an idea.

"We've been getting some great leadership from Will," Altman said. "He's keeping the guys together, and really talking to them."

Up Next: The Ducks play at No. 5 USC on Saturday (8 p.m., FS1).

Mr. FishDuck

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Dillon Brooks willed the team to victory so many times, and the current Ducks need someone to do the same.  Is that going to be Richardson?

Mr. FishDuck

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On 1/14/2022 at 8:15 AM, Charles Fischer said:

Is that going to be Richardson?

 

 That team was so good. Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Dylan Ennis. Not there yet with this team, but Richardson is finally playing like the pre-season 1st teamer. Jacob Young is looking like his brother, Harmon is finding his groove.

 

The offense started to work, and the Ducks played the defense we've come to expect from Altman's teams in the 2nd half. Those final seconds of the 1st half were traumatic; and I was amazed that it was the Ducks who had the fight and desire, that did remind me of Dillon Brooks, in OT. 

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