Payton Pritchard

Lock down second half defense seals the deal for Oregon

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Lock down second half defense seals the deal for Oregon

How Oregon won: Coming into tonight's game vs. Arizona State, Oregon coach Dana Altman said that they are, "still playing with that confidence, that edge on them...". The hot, spot-up shooting Sun Devils weren't prepared to meet the 23 degree weather and the Oregon Ducks cold front that shut them down. The Ducks played lock-down defense, both on the perimeter and on the inside holding ASU to 28.6% from the field and 25% from three-point range in the second half. Oregon (18-10, 8-7 Pac-12) defeats Arizona State (19-8, 7-8 Pac-12) 75-68 at Matthew Knight Arena in this Pac-12 After Dark showdown.

Altman said following the game, "Our formula for this team hasn't changed much. You know if we out-rebound people and hold them under 70, our success rate has been pretty high. So I thought out defensive transition was good. All the stats: points in the paint, points off turnovers, 2nd chance points, fast break points, we won in all categories. They hit some three's and we didn't, probably the difference."

Pritchard had a solid game on both sides of the ball. Understanding that Arizona State likes to push the ball quickly and will on occasion spot up for a three-pointer in what seems like no time at all, Pritchard stuck like a glove to Sun Devils guard Remy Martin. On the flip side, Pritchard recorded six assitst and zero turnovers, a stat Altman really likes to see.

Pritchard said, "I think defensively, we got hands on balls. Kenny [Wooten] was in there deflecting and blocking shots. We just didn't give them any easy ones, that lead to us getting easy layups in transition and getting stops."

Freshman Kenny Wooten seems to play different under the lights at Matthew Knight Arena. He recorded four more  blocks tonight, where at the Los Angeles schools, Wooten did not record any.

What it means: It was the upper-classmen tonight for Oregon that really stepped up. Leading the way for Oregon was redshirt senior guard Elijah Brown with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Brown has typically been a spot up three-point shooter for the Ducks this season, but found his shot moreso tonight inside the arc. 

Brown said, "I was just trying to shoot my shot like I shoot in the gym when I'm by myself and I was just really focused and it was a big game for us so I tried to do what I could to help us win."

"A lot of my career I find myself just settling outside the three-point line, and the more I'm able to mix my game up, the more the three will open up. So, it's never too late. We still got some season left. I feel like I figured that out a little bit tonight." 

The Ducks find themselves in the middle of the Pac with just three games left. Earlier in the week, Elijah Brown said that the team, "can still make noise". Oregon will finish the season with one more home game vs. Arizona this Saturday, and one more road trip north next weekend to face Washington and Washington State. It was also reported today that Wildcats star senior Allonzo Trier will be not playing due to "testing positive for a banned substance" by the NCAA, which should make things a little more interesting coming down the stretch in the Pac-12. 

High flying Ducks: Alongside Brown, redhsirt senior MiKyle McIntosh finished with 16 points and five rebounds, redshirt junior Paul White finished with 11 points and six rebounds, and Pritchard finished with nine points. Freshman Troy Brown also added nine points.

Foul play: Troy Brown finished with four fouls and McIntosh and freshman Victor Bailey Jr., recorded three fouls a piece.

Up next: The Ducks will host the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats (22-6, 12-3 Pac-12) in their final home game and on senior night at 7:15 PM (PT) this Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon flying on hope and a prayer. Fall 0-2 on the weekend

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Oregon flying on hope and a prayer. Fall 0-2 on the weekend

How Oregon lost: The Ducks needed every minute of a 40-minute fight. It started out as both the Ducks and the Bruins catching fire from behind the arc, each team shooting 50-55% from three-point range in the first half. But then, a guy named Aaron Holiday, brother of NBA players Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and Justin Holiday (Chicago Bulls) stole the show. It was one heck of a fight from Oregon to reach overtime, but the Holiday came early as Oregon (17-10, 7-7 Pac-12) falls 86-78 (OT) to UCLA (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12) in Los Angeles, CA.

A valiant second half effort from Oregon lead by sophomore guard Payton Pritchard’s 23 points on 4-of-9 from three-point range and dished out five assists. But it was also Pritchard’s defense on Holiday that forced Holiday to exit the game with four fouls with 11:45 to go in the second half. During that time with Holiday on the bench, the Ducks went on a 13-0 run, with Pritchard and redshirt senior guard Elijah Brown heating up from behind the arc and redshirt senior MiKyle McIntosh getting it done both on the inside and outside. The Ducks defense stepped up too creating six Bruins turnovers, bringing the score to 61-59, Oregon lead.

From that point on, it was back-and-forth all the way through regulation. But UCLA, on its home court and on senior night, took care of business lead by Holiday’s 29-point performance.

What it means: The Ducks will return home having gone 0-2 over the weekend. Before the weekend began, the Ducks sat at the number four spot in the Pac-12 rankings, behind Arizona, UCLA, and USC. But dropping to both USC and UCLA now puts the Ducks in the middle of the Pac, and putting even more of an emphasis on these next four games being must-wins. There are seven Pac-12 teams all within two games of one another. 

Just two weekends to go: a home-stand vs. the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats, and then rounding out conference play on the road north at Washington and Washington State. And then the mini-madness begins in Las Vegas, NV for the Pac-12 tournament, which the Ducks will need a strong showing to be even considered for the NCAA tournament.

High flying Ducks: Elijah Brown finished with 19 points. McIntosh almost recorded another double-double and finished with 19 points and added nine rebounds.

Foul play: McIntosh recorded four fouls.

Up next: The Ducks return home to host the Arizona State Sun Devils (19-7, 7-7 Pac-12) at 8:30 PM (PT) on Thursday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon gets critical win as Pac-12 leaderboard is heating up

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Oregon gets critical win as Pac-12 leaderboard is heating up

How Oregon won: A night of "first's" for sophomore guard Payton Pritchard. A first career double-double, a first collegiate dunk, and all in fron of a former teammate... Pritchard, the Ducks' sole returning starter from last year's Final Four team, came ready to put on a show for former Duck and now Golden State Warriors Jordan Bell. Pritchard leads Oregon (17-8, 7-5 Pac-12) with 19 points and 10 assists past the Washington State Cougars (9-15, 1-11 Pac-12) 84-57 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon coach Dana Altman said, "He had eight assists the other night, he had 10 tonight, I thought his ball movement was good, shot it solid. With him and Troy [Brown], giving us some ball handling, 13 assists between them, I thought that was a big key. You know, making plays for other guys. Payton didn't get quite as many deflections tonight as he had the other night, I didn't think his activity defensively was quite as good, but I thought he moved the ball well and I thought he was looking for guys and really made some good plays."

What it means: The sweep is complete. The Oregon Ducks got two critical home wins against both the Huskies and the Cougars over the weekend and now sit in fourth place (with a conference record of 7-5) in the Pac-12 conference behind Arizona (10-3), UCLA (8-5) and USC (8-5). These two wins were important because going into the final six games of the season, the Ducks are on the road twice, with the Los Angeles schools coming up next. A tough stretch of games down the road and a team that is perrhaps starting to scratch the surface of its identity, these Ducks will be put to the test in each of the remaining six conference games left.

Altman said, "We are going to have to play our tails off. We are going have to have a couple really good road trips... It gives us an opportunity because the five teams they're talking about getting into the NCAA tournament, we got each one of them one time. So, we are going to have our shot. If we are tough enough and together enough to take advantage of it."

"We are making strides and going into L.A. we are going to really have to be to be together," said Pritchard. "We need to win both... All the teams are on a race, so obviously this next trip to L.A. will define our destiny in the Pac-12 race. We're going to need them."

High flying Ducks: The freshmen sentations and dynamic duo (and also roommates) of Kenny Wooten and Troy Brown Jr., continue to dominate on both sides of the court. For one, teams are starting to scout Wooten under the hoop and with his shot-blocking ability and length, by changing up their game plans, Pritchard has stated after the Washington game last Thursday night where Wooten recorded seven blocks. Wooten added three more blocks tonight and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. On the other side, Brown Jr.'s offensive skill is really coming to live as of lately and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds tonight vs. the Cougars. The third roommate of this duo is freshman Victor Bailey Jr., who has been a spark off the bench for Altman and the Ducks. He finished with 13 points. Senior Mikyle McIntosh also finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 from the field.

Foul play: Redshirt junior Paul White finished with four fouls.

Up next: The Ducks hit the road to face USC (17-9, 8-5 Pac-12) at 6 PM (PT) this Thursday in Los Angeles.

Deja vu for the young Ducks; let another slip away late

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Deja vu for the young Ducks; let another slip away late

How Oregon lost: This was a battle from start to finish. Oregon fell into a 16-6 hole early due to not blocking out and USC getting offensive rebounds. But the Ducks fought their way back to a 36-35 Trojan lead at halftime. From then on it was back-and-forth. With five minutes to go in the game, it started to feel like deja vu from Arizona. Could the Ducks finally finish strong and pull out a win with just a small four-point lead as time winded down? Alas, it did not happen. The chemistry and leadership of a much older, more mature USC team outlasted the Ducks. Oregon (12-7, 2-4 Pac-12) ends its 14-game win streak against USC and falls at home to the Trojans (14-6, 5-2 Pac-12) 75-70 in Matthew Knight Arena.

"They [the losses] are all frustrating. I just think we are a better team," Oregon coach Dana Altman siad. "I'm disappointed in myself because we are not performing at the level that I think we should be performing at. For whatever reason, we haven't been able to get our guys to buy into the things that we think are really important. So, it's frustrating for everybody. We had a long streak over these guys and we should have continued it. And we've lost three ball games at home. I think that's the highest since we've opened up the building. So it's frustrating, but we just have to fight through it. Everybody is judged by how you handle adversity. We are going to have to do a better job of handling some adversity."

Oregon sophomore guard Payton Pritchard led all Oregon scores with 18 points and seven assists, but in the closing minutes, he missed his final four shots. "Last two games we are up with four minutes left and we are not finishing," Pritchard said. "We are not getting the rebounds we need to, we are not... we are just doing the little things wrong."

What it means: This is the second game that Altman has mentioned the team not "buying in" to what the coaches think is important. Could one of these things be rebounding? USC beat Oregon badly on the boards, 36-26 with 13 of those coming at the offensive end. Another point is finishing games. Is not being able to finish against Arizona and USC solely derived from inexperience or is it the result of ignoring Altman, or a little bit of both? The last possessions for Oregon did not look good: falling down on drives, bad passes, bad fouls, and not making plays for one another.

"Right now we are only playing 36 minutes," Pritchard said. "We got to play 40 minutes."

Oregon has another huge test this upcoming Saturday against UCLA at home.

High flying Ducks: Four Oregon players scored in double figures tonight. Led by Pritchard's 18, junior forward Paul White scored 14 points off the bench, freshman Troy Brown Jr., finished with 12 points and five assists, and senior Mikyle McIntosh finished with a double-double 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Foul play: The Ducks committed 24 total team fouls compared to USC's 11. Pritchard fouled out with under a mintue to go, McIntosh and senior guard Elijah Brown finished with four foul each.

Up next: The Ducks host the UCLA Bruins (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) at 7:15 PM (PT) on Saturday, January 20th, at Matthew Knight Arena.

Pure joy to heartbreak in a matter of seconds. Oregon loses to Boise State 73-70

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Pure joy to heartbreak in a matter of seconds. Oregon loses to Boise State 73-70

How Oregon lost: From pure joy to utter heartbreak in a matter of seconds. That's probably how Oregon fans, coaches, and players felt in the final seconds at Matthew Knight Arena tonight. With time winding down, Oregon sophomore guard Payton Pritchard pushed the pace, drove to the hoop and scored a lay-in with just four seconds left on the clock, the score now tied at 70 a piece. But that was three and a half seconds too many for Broncos guard Lexus Williams who got the ball inbounds quickly, dribbled right to his strong hand, and threw up a prayer from half court. Swish. Nothing but net. A dog pile on one end and a team with hands on their heads and jaws hanging low on the other. The Ducks' 46 home-game win streak comes to an end on a halfcourt shot, and the Boise State Broncos (7-1) come away with the 73-70 win over Oregon (5-3) at Matthew Knight Arena.

"They always hurt, you know, but we put ourself in that position," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman following the game. "Fast break points really hurt us, they had zero at half time and 14 in the second half, we didn't get back and put our defense together. Couple of those were three's which got them going. They were seven of 11 from three in the second half. Put them on the line way too much with really bad fouls. Got beat on second chance points... so lot of work to do. I keep saying that and I know you guys are tired of hearing it, but we got to cut the fouls down and we got to get a lot tougher defensively and a lot tougher on the boards."

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"We can't let this get down and ruin our season," said Pritchard. "But we can't be looking forward to big games or anything like that because obviously any team could beat us right now. So we got to take it one game at a time. Actually, one day at a time for this team."

What it means: The Ducks have some work to do. It starts with toughness on the defensive side of the ball both mentally and physically. The Ducks were out-rebounded as a team 33-30 while giving up 11 offensive rebounds and 11 second chance points. They must have a bigger presence down low grabbing boards and then in turn controlling the pace of play on the offensive side. On the other hand, the Ducks need to show mental toughness and not give up silly fouls like reaching in or not having body control. Those are the types of fouls the player can control. Oregon sent Boise State to the free throw line 25 times tonight.

There is a lot of room for growth for this young Oregon team, but can they get it done by the time conference play comes around?

"All that work is with the tough things," said Altman. "We'll learn to play together better, but the physicality of the game, the defense, the rebounding, that's just got to improve. And it comes down to toughness, and it comes down to leadership."

"Through the game, we should never get comfortable," said Pritchard. "If we're up 30 or down 30, don't matter, so that's just part of us growing up."

High flying Ducks: Pritchard was consistent once again for Oregon displaying his leadership on both sides of the ball. He came up huge for Oregon in the final minutes of tonight's game by controlling the pace and knowing when to drive to the hoop or dish it out to one of his teammates. Pritchard finished with a team-high 28 points on nine-of-16 shooting and with two of his most important points coming with four seconds left on the clock to tie the game 70-70.  

Foul play: Oregon was without freshman guard Troy Brown tonight due to concussion protocol. 6' 7" redshirt senior Mikyle McIntosh fouled out with just over six minutes left in the game and 6' 9" redshirt junior Paul White both fouled out with under a minute to go. 

Up next: Oregon hosts the Colorado State Rams (3-4) Friday, December 8th at 7 PM (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon basketball team reloaded for success

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Oregon basketball team reloaded for success

Oregon's basketball team won't match last year's run to the Final Four after losing seven of the team's best nine players. 

However, this season's squad will be darn good and could hint toward at possible run at returning to the Final Four the following season.  

The Ducks begin non-conference play at 9 p.m., Friday night at home against Coppin State. Oregon coach Dana Altman will have his work cut out for him this season to mold together a group of mostly strangers in time for when Pac-12 play begins on Dec. 29 against Utah. 

Gone are four NBA players. Dillon Brooks (Memphis Grizzlies), Jordan Bell (Golden State Warriors), Tyler Dorsey (Atlanta Hawks) and Chris Boucher (Golden State Warriors), along with Dylan Ennis (graduated), Casey Benson (transfer) and Kavell Bigby-Williams (transfer). 

Such departures would destroy most programs for at least a season., but seemingly not Oregon, which has pulled off one of the greatest reloading adventures of all time. The only real question is if this collection of new talent can come together in time to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. 

"I think we can have a good offensive team if we make shots for each other," UO coach Dana Altman told reporters following a recent exhibition game. "I don't think this can be a team where (players say) 'I'm going to go make a play this time.'  We've got to move it... Our guys just haven't figured that out yet."

That will take time given all of the new faces. Sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard is the only returning regular rotation player. Sophomore forward Keith Smith played minimal minutes last season. 

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True freshmen, forwards Troy Brown, a five-star recruit, and Kenny Wooten, and freshman Victor Bailey Jr. will be instant impact players. Transfer forward Paul White, who sat out last season, and new transfers, guard Elijah Brown and forward Mikyle McIntosh, will contribute in a variety of ways. Then there's also freshman forward Abu Kigab, redshirt freshman forward M.J. Cage and senior center Roman Sorkin.

That's quite a bit of talent to work with that will create opportunities for Altman to play several different types of lineups. 

But, again, they must all mesh together and learn to play team basketball in order for the Ducks, picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12, to be successful.

No worries. Altman has proven in the past that he is deft at taking a batch of new talent and getting them to play together on defense and on offense. It often takes a bit of time. But once the project is complete, the results typically prove to be spectacular. 

"We've got potential." Altman said. "But we've got a tremendous amount of work to do."

Oregon basketball teams to hold double-header charity games Saturday

Oregon basketball teams to hold double-header charity games Saturday

The Oregon men's and women's basketball teams will play a pair of charity exhibition games on Saturday morning at Matthew Knight Arena to raise money for those affected by the wildfires that ravaged the state last summer.

Admission is $10 for the double-header event that will not be televised. Money raised will go to the American Red Cross Oregon Wildfire Fund. Payment must be in the form of cash or check. Credit cards will not be accepted. The games are being held early in order to be done in time for fans to attend the Oregon football team's 2:45 p.m. game against Utah at Autzen Stadium. 

The women’s team will host Portland State at 9:30 a.m. 

“This is a great opportunity for our fans to get a look at two exciting teams,” UO women's coach Kelly Graves said in a prepared statement. “While at the same time, we are joining forces with Portland State to help with the recovery efforts in fire-damaged areas of our great state.”

The men’s team will play at 11 a.m. against Idaho.

“The NCAA has given us a unique opportunity to give back to our state, and we are honored to be able to do that,” Oregon men's coach Dana Altman said. “We want to encourage those fans who are coming to Eugene for the football game to come early and watch basketball for a good cause.”

The men’s team reached the Final Four last season. The women's team made it to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.

Doors will open at 9:00 a.m., and all seating is general admission.

Oregon basketball picked to finish fourth in Pac-12

Oregon basketball picked to finish fourth in Pac-12

Media members who cover the Pac-12 picked defending champion Oregon to finish fourth in the Pac-12.

Arizona was picked to win the conference title. Oregon State is picked to finish eighth. 

Considering that Oregon, which reached the Final Four last season, lost Jordan Bell, Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Chris Boucher to the NBA, along with Dylan Ennis, being picked to finish fourth is quite complimentary. 

The Ducks return one impact player, sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard, leaving coach Dana Altman to rebuild with a few other young returners, transfers and a loaded recruiting class that includes five-star guard Troy Brown

Oregon will play Northwest Christian in an exhibition game on Nov. 30 before opening the regular season Nov. 20 at home against Coppin State.

Pac-12 conference play begins Dec. 29. The Pac-12 Tournament will be held Mar. 7-10 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. 

2017-18 PAC-12 MEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

  Team (First Place) Points
1. Arizona (22) 273
2. USC (1) 251
3. UCLA 223
4. Oregon 203
5. Stanford 182
6. Arizona State 146
7. Utah 129
8. Oregon State 125
9. Colorado 112
10. Washington 71
11. California 46
12. Washington State 33

Oregon guard Casey Benson announces decision to transfer

Oregon guard Casey Benson announces decision to transfer

The deconstruction of Oregon's first Final Four team in 78 years continued this evening with the announcement from junior guard Casey Benson that he would seek to transfer. 

"I believe it's in my best interest to graduate this spring and become a graduate transfer," Benson stated on Twitter. 

Jordan Bell? We await your decision...

Gone already are sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey and junior forward Dillon Brooks. Both followed seniors Chris Boucher and Dylan Ennis out the door. 

Benson's decision means that five of the team's top seven players are now gone. Bell would make six should he decide to leave. He is projected by many online mock drafts to be a first-round pick in this summer's NBA Draft.

Benson's choice comes a bit out of left field but shouldn't be considered all that shocking. Benson started the 2015-2016 for an Oregon team that won the Pac-12 regular season and tournament championships before reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. His reward - to lose his starting job to freshman Payton Pritchard this season when the Ducks reached the Final Four.

Benson didn't figure to return to the starting lineup next season even with the departure of Dorsey and Brooks. So, with most of his pals now gone, it only stands to reason that Benson would recognize the disintegration of what the Ducks built and seek to find a place where he could start his senior year. 

As a graduate transfer, Benson would be eligible to play right away. 

Benson wasn't flashy or a great scorer for the Ducks, but UO fans should never - ever- forget the season he had in 2015-16 when he committed just 24 turnovers while handing out 117 assists and averaging 6.0 points per game over 38 starts. The 24 turnovers is astounding but it wasn't enough to assure him of being the starter the following season. Pritchard committed 56 turnovers in 38 games this season while averaging 7.4 points per game with 141 assists. 

Pritchard said at the Final Four that he and Benson had a frosty relationship to start the season when both were competing for the starting point guard spot. Both said that their relationship got better over time, but clearly there was some friction between the two early on in the season. 

Oregon returns to regional finals after 69-68 win over Michigan

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Oregon returns to regional finals after 69-68 win over Michigan

Oregon 69, Michigan 68 

How Oregon won: No. 3 Oregon (32-5) once again found a way late in a NCAA Tournament game to pull out a narrow victory and advance, winning 69-68 over No. 7 Michigan (26-12) Thursday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. 

Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, the hero in the team's second-round win over Rhode Island, made a three-foot shot to give UO a 69-68 lead with 1:09 remaining, and the Ducks got stops on Michigan's final three possessions over the final two minutes and change to earn the win. 

Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. missed a jump shot from 18 feet out at the buzzer.

Michigan attempted 31 three-point shots, making just 11. The Wolverines made 14 of 27 two-point field goals. Michigan coach John Bielein said there were several threes his team shouldn't have taken but also added that the Wolverines were mindful of Oregon forward Jordan Bell's defensive prowess inside. 

Oregon shot 44.8 percent from the field. Michigan made 43.1 percent of its shots and committed just one turnover in the second half after committing seven in the first half. The Ducks only turned the ball over five times all game. 

What it means: Oregon advances to the regional finals for the second consecutive season. Oregon last year lost 80-68 to Oklahoma in the West Regional finals in Anaheim, Calif. 

Key sequence: Oregon led 60-55 after senior guard Dylan Ennis hit a jump shot with 5:10 remaining. Michigan, however, answered with back-to-back three pointers. First D.J. Wilson made one from 24 feet out off an assist from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Dorsey then missed a jumper for Oregon setting up a three from Derrick Walton Jr. from 27 feet out to give the Wolverines a 61-60 lead with 4:15 remaining in the game, and causing UO coach Dana Altman to call a timeout.

The talking to worked. Dorsey came out of the timeout and got a three from the corner from to make the score 63-61, UO. But then, Irvin came back for Michigan with a three to give the Wolverines a 64-63 lead. 

Michigan led 68-65 with 1:49 remaining when Ennis missed the front end of a one-and-one. But Bell got the offensive rebound and scored to make the score 68-67, Michigan. 

Some 40 seconds later, Dorsey hit what proved to be the game-winner. 

High-flying Ducks: Dorsey finished with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting and made five of his seven three-point attempts. 

Bell had 16 points and 13 rebounds. 

Ennis gave the Ducks 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks had a relatively quiet night scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting. However, he added four rebounds and five assists. 

Fowl play: UO junior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams only gave the Ducks one points and two rebounds in eight minutes of action. 

Up next: Oregon will play the winner of tonight's second game between No. 1 Kansas and No. 4 Purdue on Saturday.