Luckily for Oregon, it was the one who made the plays down the stretch and avoided a huge upset as the Ducks win it 74-68.
Payton Pritchard led the Ducks with 16 points, but it was freshman Kenny Wooten’s 13 points, four rebounds and four blocked shot on the defensive side of the ball that was the difference.
The 6-10 center went 6-of-7 from the field as he showed an array of post moves in order to get some easy shots.
After a dismal first half that saw Oregon having to rally to go into the halftime locker room with a 32-31 lead, the Ducks came out on fire. Oregon went on a 14-0 run and it looked like they would run away from the Tigers.
But to Texas Southern’s credit, it wouldn’t go away.
The members from the SWAC managed to whittle that 15-point deficit down to just one, 65-64, at the 3:32 mark. But Pritchard and Paul White made lay-ins to give the Ducks some breathing room.
Troy Brown, who missed his first eight shots, was able to make his presence known by a nice driving lay-in and a three to put the game away. Although he did score just 10 points on 3-of-13 from the field, Brown led the team with 12 rebounds and four assists.
Oregon will have just a day to prepare for an upstart Portland State team, who comes into Matthew Knight Arena on Wednesday. The Vikings opened up some eyes in the PK80 tourney by giving both Duke and Butler scares before defeating Stanford 87-78.
At 8-2, Portland State will provide Oregon with a major test as the Pac-12 season begins in nearly two weeks.
~ Don Smalley