Ducks win eighth straight, go to 6-0 in conference play

Ducks win eighth straight, go to 6-0 in conference play

EUGENE, Ore - The No. 16 Oregon Ducks overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to hold off Washington State Cougars, 68-61, on Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.

Senior forward E.J. Singler led the Oregon charge with 19 points - 14 of them came in the second half.  Fellow senior Arsalan Kazemi added with 16 points and seven rebounds.  Freshman Damyean Dotson posted 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds; it was the fourth consecutive game where he finished with 10 or more points.

Oregon improves to 17-2 overall and still sits atop the Pac-12 with a 6-0 mark.  Washington State falls to 10-9 (1-5 Pac-12) with the loss.  The Ducks' 6-0 start in conference play marks the first time they have started a conference season with six-straight wins since the 1925-26 campaign, when they were members of the Pacific Coast Conference.

The Ducks started the game just 2-of-8 from the field and found themselves trailing, 10-4, six minutes into the game.  But Dotson nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to jump start the Oregon offense and make it a 13-10 game with 12:22 left in the half.

The two teams played evenly over the next five-plus minutes and with 6:48 remaining in the opening half, the visiting Cougars still held a 24-20 advantage.  They pushed their lead to nine (29-20), their largest of the half, after Mike Ladd hit a three at the 5:37 mark.

Coming out of a timeout, Oregon switched from half-court pressure to a 1-2-2 press and forced back-to-back Washington State turnovers.  The first turnover resulted in a Dotson tip-in and Dominic Artis split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to five, 29-24, after the second. 

Down eight, the Ducks manufactured a 5-0 run highlighted by a Kazemi three-point play that made it a 32-29 score with less than two minutes left in the half.  But the Cougars withstood the Oregon mini-run and finished the half with a 7-0 run of their own, taking a 39-29 lead into the locker room.

Neither team shot particularly well from the floor in the first; the Ducks finished 10-of-26 (39 percent) and the Cougars shot at a 41 percent clip (14-of-34).  However, Oregon turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, resulting in 18 Washington State points.

Out of the halftime break, senior Carlos Emory capped a 9-0 Oregon run with a thunderous dunk to cut the Washington State lead to one, 39-38.  The Cougars responded by scoring the next five points but Singler continued the back-and-forth struggle by draining a long-two from the left corner and a three from the left wing to make it a 44-43 game with just over 13 minutes remaining.  Then, after two Cougar free throws, Singler tied the game at 46 with a long ball from behind the right wing. 

The two teams came out of the under-12 media timeout knotted at 46.  Singler then gave the Ducks their first lead of night, 48-46, by canning two free throws.  At that point, Singler had scored nine consecutive points for Oregon.
With 4:22 left, Oregon head coach Dana Altman called a timeout with his team leading 59-57.  Out of the timeout, Singler fed the ball inside to Emory who converted a right-handed baby-hook to give the Ducks a 61-57 advantage, matching their largest lead of the game.  Moments later, Kazemi threw down an alley-oop pass from Artis to extend the lead to seven, 64-57, with under two minutes left in the game.

The Cougars would get no closer than five the rest of the way. Washington State's last field goal of the game came with just 10 seconds left.  Its previous field goal came at the 5:29 mark in the second half.  The Ducks defense held the Cougars to just 22 second-half points as they came back from their largest halftime deficit of the season.

Oregon finished the game shooting 44 percent (24-of-55); Washington State shot 36 percent (20-of-56). 

The Ducks' win marked their eighth straight, which ties them for their 14th longest winning streak in school history.
Oregon takes its 6-0 Pac-12 record into the weekend, where it will meet Washington at home on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Postgame Notes
- Arsalan Kazemi made his first Pac-12 start and first since Dec. 31 at home against Nevada.
- E.J. Singler buried a first-half jumper from the right corner to give him 1,303 career points and put him alone in 16th place on Oregon's all-time scoring list.  Singler passed Charlie Warren, who finished his career with 1,301 points.
- Singler recorded a block in the first half to give him 58 for his career and move him into 10th all-time.
- Tony Woods posted two first-half blocks to tie him with Henry Madden and Fred Jones for fourth all-time (74).  He picked up one in the second half to move him into a third-place tie with Chris Christoffersen (75 career blocks). 
- Washington State's 10-point halftime lead was Oregon's largest halftime deficit of the season.
- Oregon is 6-0 in conference play for the first time since 1925-26.
- The Ducks are in the midst of their third-longest home-court winning streak in school history; they trail 23-game winning streaks set from 1936-39 and 2001-03.  Their current 19-game streak ranks in a tie for sixth in the nation.