by DSH contributing writer Eric Sloat
In a truly must win situation, the Oregon Ducks halted their 5 game losing streak with a 71-44 win over the Washington Cougars in Pullman. Oregon shot 26-57, 45.6 %, their best since the losing streak began, and they also had 15 assists, an indicator of much better passing than in the previous games. They also dominated the boards. Jason Caliste led the way with 20 points, on 8-10 shooting, missing 2 of his 6 3 point attempts. The game was sloppy at the beginning but the Ducks got their game under control and led 30-17 at the break.
The Ducks sealed the game early in the second half, the offense was up tempo and the defense was fast and aggressive, holding the Cougars scoreless for nearly 5 minutes. Washington State was never able to get into any effective offense either in half court or on breaks. Along with Caliste, the other standout was Ben Carter. He did not score a lot of points, but grabbed 9 rebounds and, after being victimized by the Huskies at the basket in the previous game, this time, the Cougars had to stay on the perimeter (James Snook photo, USA Today Sports images).
The Ducks looked good against the Cougars. Caliste has been steady all season, but the rest of the 9 man rotation have all dropped off considerably during the losing streak. Arik Armstead got his first playing time and connected on his only shot attempt. It’s unlikely that he’ll see much playing time in the future. But Altman is going to have to come up with a tighter rotation soon. A part of the problem with the players not communicating with each other is that the constant substituting never allows for a group to become familiar with each other. The Ducks now have the weight of the losses off their back. But it will only mean something positive if the Ducks can take care of their home court and defeat UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday.