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Freshmen Provide Sparks In W

Feb 6, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon men's basketball team won for the first time in four weeks and completed a season sweep of Washington on Saturday, as the Ducks beat the Huskies 86-74 in Matthew Knight Arena.

Playing without starters Chris Duarte and Eric Williams Jr., the Ducks shot nearly 50 percent both overall and from three-point range, and also outrebounded UW. Oregon won for the first time since Jan. 9, a four-week period in which the program had two pauses for COVID-19 protocols and played just twice, losing both games.

"I don't want to take anything away from Oregon State or Washington State, because they beat us," UO coach Dana Altman said. "But we didn't play good. I thought we were better today."

How It Happened: Eugene Omoruyi continued to lead the way for the Ducks, while Will Richardson looked much improved in his second game back from injury. And freshmen Franck Kepnang and Jalen Terry each provided a spark over the course of the afternoon.

Omoruyi's first bucket and three-pointers by Richardson and LJ Figueroa gave Oregon an early 12-8 lead. The Huskies got hot and made five straight shots while pulling ahead 18-14, but Omoruyi ended that run with a three-pointer, and then Kepnang took over.

The freshman post hit a hook shot for a 19-18 lead, then blocked a UW shot at the other end. Moments later he grabbed an offensive rebound and banked in a jumper that put Oregon up 21-18, and after a timeout Kepnang completed a three-point play for a 24-20 lead. Two possessions later he blocked another shot, setting up a fastbreak opportunity for Amauri Hardy that made it 29-20.

Richardson and Omoruyi made three-pointers just before halftime to give Oregon a 42-31 lead at the break. Richardson then had seven points during a 14-8 run by the Ducks to open the second half, putting UW in a 56-39 hole.

The Huskies rallied within 56-43, but then Terry took over. He made three-pointers on four consecutive Oregon possessions, the last pushing the Ducks' lead to 20 at 68-48. The UO men ultimately led by as much as 21, on an offensive rebound and putback by Omoruyi for a 76-55 lead.

Who Stood Out: Omoruyi finished with 25 points and five rebounds, plus three steals. Richardson had 19 points with five assists, and Terry added 15 points with four rebounds. Kepnang and Hardy scored nine points apiece, and Figueroa fought through a 3-of-14 shooting day by grabbing nine rebounds, making two steals and blocking a shot.

"Those freshmen really stepped in," Altman said. "… We got really productive minutes from those two guys, absolutely."

What It Means: Oregon got to celebrate a win for the first time in a month, a much-needed positive step for a program that hasn't enjoyed consistency the last few weeks due to the two nearly successive COVID layoffs.

"It was really important," Altman said. "Our guys were really down after the Oregon State game, not only with the loss but knowing we didn't play really good. … They should walk away feeling a lot better, because we played a lot better."

Notable: The Ducks came into the day leading the Pac-12 with 7.9 steals per game, and finished with eight on Saturday. … Oregon had 15 turnovers in the game but cut the total down from nine in the first half to six in the second. … Duarte had a walking boot on his leg after being injured in Thursday's loss to WSU, while Williams remained sidelined by COVID-19 protocols. Altman said X-rays on Duarte were negative, giving him a chance to return next week or the week after. Williams is expected to rejoin practice early next week.

Up Next: The Ducks play at Arizona State on Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2)