Led by freshman point guard Dominic Artis' 16 points the Oregon Ducks beat visiting Portland State 80-69 Monday night at Matthew Knight Arena. Oregon improved to 2-0 early in the year and now face a tough test on Friday against SEC power Vanderbilt.
Dominic Artis scored 16 points in Oregon's 80-69 victory.
"I thought we took a step in the right direction," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. "Defensive intensity wasn't quite the same in the second half as it was in the first half but definitely a lot more talk and more communication than we had Saturday or in any of the exhibition games."
Artis made 6-of-13 shots from the field including 4-of-8 from three to lead the Ducks while fellow freshman Damyean Dotson added 12 points, six rebounds, and three steals off the bench. Senior Carlos Emory added 15 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of play.
Saturday against Northern Arizona Oregon looked lost or slow at times but on Monday night it was far from the opposite as the Ducks blew the game open early as they built a 21 point lead with 6:02 left to play in the first. Most of Oregon's scoring came from Oregon's newcomers as well in the first half.
Artis, Dotson, and Waverly Austin combined for 29 of Oregon's 51 first half points while also being very active on the defensive side creating turnovers.
"We just didn't have five guys with the same intensity on the floor like we did in the first half," Altman said about Oregon's defensive effort. "To be a good defensive team you have to have five guys really getting after it."
Altman singled out both Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson as two players who played not only better on the offensive side of the ball but also defensively as well Monday night.
"I thought both of them gave much better energy defensively tonight. I thought Dot and DA really did a nice job with their defensive intensity and I was really pleased there," said Altman.
Better ball movement in the first half allowed Oregon to shoot 58-percent from the field and 70-percent from three in the first half according to Altman. The lack of movement on defense forced some bad shots by the Ducks in the second and allowed Portland State back into the game. Oregon finished the night shooting 49-percent from the field and 37-percent from three.
"I thought our ball movement and transition was pretty good," explained Altman. "I didn't think our threes were nearly as good as they were in the first half. I didn't think our ball movement wasn't nearly as good as it was in the first. We had some looks we decided to just take."
Oregon's bench provided 43 points and 23 rebounds was a spark Altman was pleased with but cautioned the Ducks are still picking their lineups.
"I think we've got a number of guys who can help us in the rotation. We will keep messing around with it until we find a group that kind of sticks out," said Altman. "They are going to have to stick out in practice and not just in games."
A second half slide prevented Oregon from running away big and Altman said that should be expected from this team with six new freshmen and a seventh newcomer in Waverly Austin who transferred in.
"Absolutely, we are going to go through some growing pains. You only have four guys returning who played for you a year ago," Altman said post game. "We've only got four vets that have minutes in division one basketball. We are going to have some consistency problems and some ups and downs."
Austin added nine points, six rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in 21 minutes off the bench. Senior E.J. Singler scored six points and grabbed three rebounds while blocking a shot and getting one steal.
Portland State was led by Renado Parker and Dre Winston who both had 15 points for the Vikings.