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No. 3 Houston Holds Off Ducks

Nov 20, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. — N'Faly Dante had 16 points with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots to help Oregon battle No. 3 Houston until the final minutes of a 66-56 defeat Sunday before 7,002 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.

Despite 16 turnovers and 3-of-22 three-point shooting, the Ducks (2-2) fought within 60-54 with more than 2 minutes still to play. But the Cougars got back up by 12 before Oregon could score again.

"A lot to work on," UO coach Dana Altman said. "We showed our inability to handle the ball, and that was a pretty big part of it."

How It Happened: The Ducks had great energy from the outset led by guard Keeshawn Barthelemy, who would end up suffering an injury just before halftime that led to him watching the second half from the bench in a walking boot. Will Richardson made Oregon's first three-point attempt of the night and Dante flushed home an alley-oop from Barthelemy as the UO men took an early 6-2 lead.

But the Ducks then missed their next 10 three-point attempts in the first half, and the Cougars raised their intensity to force nine turnovers. Buckets by Richardson and Rivaldo Soares tied it at 15-15, but Houston scored the next 10 in a row. Oregon finally got another three-pointer to drop when Nathan Bittle connected to make it 27-20. That ended up being the halftime margin when Richardson sliced through the lane for a bucket that got the Ducks within 31-24 at the break.

A three by Quincy Guerrier and a bucket by Bittle to open the second half got Oregon within two at 31-29, and a three-point play by Dante kept it a one-possession game at 41-38. But the Cougars again went on a sustained run, this one of 14-2 to lead 55-40. It was 58-42 when the Ducks cranked it up defensively, forcing three turnovers as they closed back within 60-54. But Houston closed out the game in the final minute for the win.

The Cougars finished 11-of-22 from three-point range, eight more makes than Oregon on the same number of attempts.

"At this point they're just deeper than us," Altman said. "We were bigger; that's why we outrebounded them, got some blocked shots. But their perimeter game is much better than ours right now. Just got a lot of work to do."

Who Stood Out: Richardson finished with 13 points and Guerrier added 12, though they also combined to go 2-of-10 on threes with 11 turnovers. Dante had four assists and two steals to go along with his 16 points, 11 boards and three blocks.

"I'll tell you, without him tonight, it would have been tough," Altman said. "He's played awfully hard and awfully well throughout the year. He's practiced the best; it's not even close."

What It Means: Sunday's game began a six-game stretch over two weeks that began with No. 3 Houston, ends Dec. 4 at UCLA and includes three games at the prestigious Phil Knight Invitational over the holiday weekend. Richardson began that stretch by playing 40 minutes Sunday, and he could be in for more big minutes given injuries to Barthelemy, Brennan Rigsby and Jermaine Couisnard.

"We just don't have any guards," Altman said. "… We're a little bit guard-short."

Up Next: The Ducks face Connecticut in Portland to open the Phil Knight Invitational on Thursday (5 p.m., ESPN2).