Sometimes one can look at a stat sheet, point out one specific stat and say this is why Team X defeated Team Y.
This was one of those times.
Houston was just 2-of-20 from three-point range, while Oregon sank 10-of-21 from beyond the arc and that was more than enough for the No. 11 Ducks in a 78-66 victory over the Cougars.
Oregon moved to 5-0 on the season and Houston dropped down to 2-2. The Ducks were able to get a little revenge for last year’s loss, but both teams are vastly different from the 65-61 contest a year ago. Houston lost four starters from the 2018-19 squad and Oregon has 10 new faces on its roster.
Although the final outcome was a 12-point margin, the game was well in hand for the Ducks, who had a double-figure lead for much the second half. Their largest lead was 21 at 70-49 with six minutes left.
Anthony Mathis led the Ducks with 18 points, including five treys and Payton Pritchard added 16 points with five assists. Francis Okoro added 12 points and Will Richardson scored 11 off the bench.
Houston’s Caleb Mills led all scorers with 21 points, including both of his team’s treys. Fabian White Jr. added 12 points.
If one takes out the three-point attempts, the Cougars were 25-of-45 from the field. But those 18 misses from long range do count and ultimately was the difference of the game. Houston shot 41 percent from long range in its first three games of the season, but the Cougars’ accuracy was left in Texas. They missed 17 straight three-point attempts at one point.
On the other side of the floor, the Ducks season-long accuracy from long range remains to be spot on. It’s almost hard to believe the Ducks were 1-of-13 against Fresno State in their season debut.
It might have turned out to be a relatively easy win, Houston did have Oregon on the ropes early on. The Cougars built a 22-14 lead with many second-chance points. The Ducks were able to shore up the rebounding and went on a 15-2 run to take a 29-24 lead and they never looked back.
Oregon took a 32-27 halftime lead and outscored the Cougars 46-39 in the second half.
The Ducks did shore up the rebounding some in order to take the lead, but Houston’s offensive rebounding remained a problem for the rest of the contest. Overall, the Cougars held a 38-26 advantage on the boards and they had 21 second-chance points. Duck coach Dana Altman won’t be happy with that one stat.
But when they outscore the opponent 30-6 from long range, getting pounded on the boards can be somewhat forgiven.
Now the toughest portion of the non-conference is up next with the three-game tournament in the Bahamas. Oregon will face No. 13 Seton Hall to open up the Battle 4 Atlantis next Wednesday. On Thanksgiving, Oregon will play either Southern Mississippi or No. 8 Gonzaga.
~ Don Smalley