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Intense Effort Comes Up Short Against Top-Ranked Baylor

Dec 18, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon led nearly the entire first half and for a few minutes after halftime before No. 1 Baylor used a surge midway through the second half to beat the Ducks in a nonconference matchup Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena, 78-70.

After leading by as much as 10 in the first half, the Ducks took a 49-46 lead early in the second half on a jumper by De'Vion Harmon, who scored 18 points Saturday. But the Bears took command with a 17-2 run during which Oregon committed four turnovers, and the UO men got no closer than six the rest of the way.

"We competed for 40 minutes," Harmon said. "We just had some turnovers at the wrong time, some breakdowns. Against Baylor, that's going to cost you."

How It Happened: Oregon (6-6) scored seven straight in the early going to lead 10-5, and answered a Baylor bucket with another 7-0 run for a 17-8 lead. The lead remained nine at 20-11 after a Will Richardson three-pointer and again at 25-16 on a three-pointer by Harmon. After Baylor closed the gap, Harmon got to the rim for a basket and Rivaldo Soares hit a three-pointer two possessions later for Oregon's biggest lead of the night, 34-24.

The three-pointer by Soares prompted a timeout by the Bears, and they quickly closed within 34-30 on back-to-back three-pointers by Adam Flagler, who hit five in the first half. Baylor got within 37-35 before Richardson made two free throws just before halftime for a 39-35 Oregon lead at the break.

"I told them afterward, there's been some games where we didn't get ready and our competitive level wasn't good," UO coach Dana Altman said. "Our competitiveness was good (Saturday). The rebounds against a big, physical team, we were right there. But some timely offensive rebounds by them, and then had that stretch there (in the second half), our turnovers got them some easy baskets and really flipped the game."

As of halftime the Ducks had an advantage on the boards (15-11) and on points in the paint (14-8), but Baylor turned the tables in the second half. The Bears outrebounded Oregon in the second half, 17-15, and had an edge on points in the paint, 20-16.

Baylor surged into the lead early in the second half, 44-43, before a Richardson three-pointer and three points from Harmon got the Ducks back in front, 49-46. But after a bucket by Richardson tied it at 51-51, the Ducks went 3:33 without another point. That basket by Richardson was Oregon's only points during Baylor's 17-2 run, as the Bears took a 63-51 lead.

Jacob Young sparked some late life from the Ducks, hitting a three-pointer followed by another bucket to cut Baylor's lead to 74-66. After two missed free throws by the Bears, Richardson made two for the Ducks, and Oregon forced a turnover on the inbounds play. That gave the UO men a chance to make it a one-possession game with more than a minute to play, but a missed shot followed by a turnover allowed Baylor to retain control.

Who Stood Out: Harmon scored 13 points in the first half on his way to 18 for the game, and he led the Ducks with a pair of steals. Richardson finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds, and Young finished with 11 points, all in the final 7:05 of the game.

What It Means: The Ducks aren't a team willing to settle for silver linings, but after some disheartening performances early in the season, Saturday was encouraging.

"I'm proud of the way we competed today," Harmon said. "You looked back at the losses we had, like BYU and Houston, we didn't compete — and we got kicked. Tonight we competed, and I'm proud of that. With a little more smartness in our play, I feel like we win the game. Great team effort; wish we could have it back. But we've got to move on."

Up Next: The Ducks host their final nonconference test of the season against Pepperdine on Tuesday (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).