Oregon Ducks dump former coach Kent's Cougars, 95-72
EUGENE, Ore. - It was a somber trip back to Eugene for Washington State head coach Ernie Kent, losing to his former team in gruesome fashion as the Ducks dominated the Cougars 95-72 on Sunday afternoon.
Kent played for four years at Oregon and spent 13 years as head coach of the Ducks prior to being hired by Washington State just after the 2013-14 season. Kent took Oregon to the NCAA Tournament five times during his coaching reign in Eugene.
"Ernie and I have been really good friends, he has been so supportive of what I've tried to do in the transition of everything," said Head Coach Dana Altman. "I know tonight meant a lot. Anytime you spend 13 years coaching a school, and you've played there four years, it's emotional."
This game was never in doubt, thanks to brilliant performances from senior Joseph Young and junior Dwayne Benjamin.
Coming off of a 32-point game against Washington, Young didn't miss a beat, nearing a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Benjamin followed his lead, shooting 10-11 from the field and 3-3 from deep, tallying 25 points and five rebounds.
The Ducks were energized from the tip, holding Washington State scoreless for the first 5:15 of the game and building a 10-point lead before the Cougars could get on the board.
The momentum never wavered, and Oregon soon stretched their lead to 19, forcing Kent to call a timeout with 11:26 left, trailing 23-4.
All was in favor of the Ducks as the half progressed.
Washington State's leading scorer, Davonte Lacy, picked up his third foul with just under 10 minutes left in the half, forcing him to spend much of the remaining minutes on the bench.
Young, who didn't record a basket in the first seven minutes of the game, caught fire quickly. He shot 7-10 from the field and led the team with 19 points, five rebounds and two assists at the half.
Oregon's defense was the difference maker, forcing 10 turnovers and allowing the Cougars to shoot only 8-27 (29 percent) from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The Ducks turned the ball over only once, and recorded 14 assists on 21 made shots. They led the way with 18 points in the paint and tallied 12 points off of Washington State's turnovers.
Oregon picked up right where it left off, hitting seven of it's first eight shots, including four straight buckets from beyond the arc in the opening three minutes of the second half.
The dominance continued, and Oregon held a lead of at least 20 points for the rest of the game.
"I was really pleased with our activity," said Altman. "I thought our guys really flew around, diving on loose balls, our rebounding was good. It was a better effort; I think we made some strides tonight. It was a step in the right direction."
The Ducks moved the ball particularly well on Sunday, posting 23 assists on 35 made baskets. Oregon shot 54 percent (35-64), including 11 three-pointers.
"Pretty complete [offensive performance], but it all started on the defensive end. We really made a step in the first half on the defensive end," said Young. "Everybody was on the floor. This team is learning, I like the activity and the positive energy."
After giving up 108 points to the Cougars during their last meeting, defense was a key aspect in Sunday's matchup.
"[Defense] was the biggest thing. It's always the biggest thing," said Benjamin. "We just wanted to show that we could really defend."
The Duck's main focus was to stop Lacy, who scored 24 points on the Ducks last time they met.
"He really hurt us at their place, we just didn't want to give him easy looks," said Altman. "He's a player that when he gets going, he is a very good scorer so we didn't want him to get going tonight."
The Ducks were missing their number one shot blocker on Sunday, when freshman Jordan Bell was suspended for one game after interfering with an officer who was putting a citation on his car earlier in the week. Bell has averaged 5.7 blocks per game this season.
As the push for the Pac-12 Tournament continues, Oregon will now go on the road to try and continue their winning ways. Five of their next seven games are away from home, with the first one on Wednesday at USC.
"We've got five of seven on the road, so we need to toughen up and take care of business," said Altman. "We have a lot of work to do; the schedule shifts against us. I told our guys that we have to dig in and really be a team. That's going to be important for us the next seven ball games."