What a nice way to leave Eugene (author edit and gaffe, I had Salem here until some gracious Duck backers edumaceted me) and McArthur Court. That place has been raucous and filled with horror in the past, yet this year, in its last go-around as a home court venue and with the students gone, the Cats were able to exercise some road demons and began the Pac 10 schedule with a well earned win. This is where Coach Miller and his team concept is paying dividends, the team was ragged in its handling of the full court pressure, Derrick Williams was having problems getting untracked, yet the Cats imposed their collective will on this game with their offensive execution and cruised to a 19 point victory.
Kevin Parrom was the difference maker with 20 points off the bench, scathing shooting and 8 rebounds in just over 20 minutes of playing time. The bench also had valued performances from Kyryl Natyazhko and Jordin Mayes as the team depth wore down on the Oregon team as the second half ground down. Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill were also in double figures scoring but the key here was the shooting. The Cats came out hot, from down in the lane with Perry and Hill and from the outside with Parrom. This allowed the Cats to earn themselves an early double digit lead and they were able to maintain that throughout the first half despite their turnovers due to Oregon not being able to convert on the offensive end. It wasn't so much as the defensive intensity was lacking, Oregon was able to outquick the Arizona guards, but their finishing was suspect in that there were many opportunities missed both within the lane and beyond the arc.
On another night, who knows, but at this time the basketball dieties smiled upon the Cats as maintained their poise despite the turnovers and managed to do what was needed to win the game, make shots and convert free throws. Jeremy Jacob led the Ducks in scoring with a solid 17, mostly comprised of effective mid range jumpers in and around the lane. If the Duck guards learn to play under control at their current speed, they will be a tough out later on in the year, as Altman has apparently recognized how athletic his squad is in the backcourt and will attempt to use the press to garner easier looks for his squad. The Cats caught the Ducks mired in some serious shooting woes as the Ducks could only manage to be 1-17 from beyond the arc.
Don't expect these Cats to be as elegant as some of Olson's past squads, these guys come in and do work. They outboarded the Ducks 40 to 25 and made their way to the stripe with regularity (an Olson staple as well) by shooting over 75% from the charity line with nine more attempts than the home team. The Ducks did their best to not allow derrick Williams to beat them, so the team game was employed and others shared the load, it was very effective to watch the team work for the open shot and make it count when the opportunities presented themselves.
Next up, the dreaded Beavers, who always appear to match up well against the Cats and come PAC 10 play evolve into a tough out despite losing to the likes of YMCA teams before the Pac 10 schedule starts in earnest.