It was closer than it should have been, but the Oregon Ducks (4-1, 1-0) got the job done winning 74-71 in Seattle against rival Washington (1-4, 0-2) Saturday evening at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Eric Williams Jr. made a three-pointer from the far corner with 1:14 remaining to give Oregon a four-point lead, but Washington would close the deficit to one-point after an and-one from RaeQuan Battle.
Then after securing a defensive rebound, the Huskies held possession down just a point but Nate Roberts turned the ball over with 17.4 seconds left. Chris Duarte contested the shot inside the paint and was credited with a blocked shot.
Duarte then split a pair of free throws, giving Washington the ball with 7.9 seconds remaining down just two points. Quade Green missed a three-pointer and N'Faly Daunte secured the rebound.
Here's a quick look at the Pac-12 season-opening victory.
The Ducks are Deep
Despite losing many players from last season's Pac-12 Championship team, Dana Altman retooled by securing many rotation caliber players through the transfer portal: LJ Figueroa, Amauri Hardy, and Eugene Omoruyi will all play key roles for Altman's team.
Once Will Richardson returns to the lineup in a month, the Ducks should be able to defeat any other team in the conference. Then by March, Altman will have the team ready to play in the Sweet 16.
Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi can be a lethal one-two punch
After losing Payton Pritchard to the draft, it was unclear who would step up to lead the Ducks on offense. Well after five games, Duarte and Omoruyi appear to be best equipped to handle that load.
One play in particular stood out where Duarte made a three-pointer fading away in the far corner negating a good defensive possession by the Huskies. If Duarte can make shots like that, the Ducks have a player who can bail out the offense which is essential to making a deep run in March.
Oregon should have blown out Washington
Washington began the season 0-3 before blowing out Seattle University. One of those losses was to UC Riverside. Yes, it's a rivalry game on the road but Oregon should have dominated this game.
The Huskies finished last in the Pac-12 last season and lost two players to the NBA Draft. Oregon has its sights set on winning a second consecutive Pac-12 Championship. That Washington could have won should concern all Ducks fans.
Eugene Omoruyi needs to be more efficient
The transfer from Rutgers was clearly the team's best player after two games and even won Pac-12 Player of the Week. But since then, he's struggled from the field while defenses key in on disallowing him to bully them inside the paint. He needs to expand his game or pick his spots because 3-13 from the field is not going to cut it.
Former five-star recruit N'Faly Dante got the start for Oregon and made his impact felt early after blocking a shot on the defensive end and dunking the ball on offense.
Despite playing against a team running exclusively zone defense, Oregon rarely got good looks from behind the arc, shooting just 4-19 or 21.1%. The Ducks should not have that much difficulty beating a zone defense.
"He's going to enroll early. He just wants to get into practice right now and see how everything goes," said Altman of 2021 commit Franck Kepnang . "He's a young man that needs to play a lot of basketball, needs to work on a lot of things. But he is an athlete, he is a bright young man. The thing I love is that he wants to be at Oregon.
"He's excited about being at Oregon. I love guys that love to be part of our program."
The Next Game
Next, Oregon (4-1, 1-0) hosts UCLA (5-1, 1-0) at 12:00 p.m. on December 23rd on ESPN2.