Oregon tops Creighton 71-58, sends CBI to 3rd game

Oregon coach Dana Altman knows probably better than anyone else

what to expect out of Creighton.

Altman’s Ducks beat the Bluejays 71-58 on Wednesday night to

force a deciding game in the best-of-three College Basketball

Invitational championship.

Altman figures he has Creighton’s number because, well, he

coached the Bluejays for 16 seasons.

”I know those guys in the locker room over there,” he said.

”They’ll be ready to play.”

The Ducks (20-18) host the Bluejays (23-15) in the finale on

Friday night. Creighton won the opening game of the championship

series 84-76 on Monday night at the Qwest Center in Omaha.

”They’ll come back just like we came back tonight,” Altman

said.

Joevan Catron led Oregon’s rebound with 18 points, while Malcolm

Armstead added 14 points. The Ducks, who led by 21 points,

confounded the Bluejays by switching to a man-to-man defense.

”Our main foundation for this game was defense,” guard

Johnathan Loyd said, ”because they scored too often and too easily

in the first game.”

Gregory Echenique and Jahenns Manigat each had 10 points for the

Bluejays.

Altman is Creighton’s winningest coach, with 327 victories and

seven NCAA tournament appearances in 16 years. He left the

6,000-student Jesuit school last April for a $1.7 million-a-year

offer from Oregon. The move came as a big surprise to his players

and Creighton fans.

Altman said he had dreaded the trip back to the Qwest Center,

but he got a warm reception from the CBI single-game record crowd

of 12,381. He was replaced at Creighton by Greg McDermott,

previously head coach at Iowa State.

Wednesday night’s game was a chance for Altman to show off his

new digs, the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena, which opened

earlier this year. The Matt, as it is known, replaced beloved but

outdated McArthur Court, the Ducks’ home since 1927.

Oregon capitalized Wednesday night on its advantage at the Matt,

with its distinctive woodsy-looking floor.

The Ducks took a 15-8 lead after Jay-R Strowbridge’s fast-break

layup midway through the first half. But the Bluejays closed the

gap to 15-14 on Josh Jones’ 3-pointer.

The Ducks pulled back out in front after E.J. Singler’s

3-pointer, Armstead’s jumper and Catron’s layup made it 25-16 with

less than five minutes before the break.

Armstead’s layup with less than a minute left gave the Ducks a

35-21 lead going into the break.

Creighton Freshman Doug McDermott, the coach’s son and the

team’s leading scorer with an average of 15.2 points and 7.5

rebounds, got into foul trouble early and sat for a good part of

the first half. McDermott finished with six points.

Oregon extended the lead to 44-23 after Garrett Sim’s 3-poiner.

Sim, who did not score in the first half, had seven points less

than 3 minutes into the second and finished with nine.

Sim’s layup with 12:58 left made it 54-33.

The Ducks got sloppy down the stretch and Creighton was able to

narrow the margin to 58-46 after Kenny Lawson’s jumper and four

straight free throws from McDermott and Darryl Ashford.

The threat was short-lived, however, and Catron’s 3-pointer with

5:33 left gave the Ducks a 66-48 lead.

Oregon scored 35 points off Creighton turnovers.

”Too many of those turnovers led to easy baskets at the other

end and got their crowd into the game. That was our No. 1 goal, the

first thing we talked about before the game, was not allowing those

pick-six turnovers that turn into a huge play at the other end, and

we weren’t able to execute that part of our game plan,” Greg

McDermott said.

The Ducks picked up their 20th victory of the season, making

Altman the third first-year UO head coach with 20 wins in his first

season, and the first since John Warren went 30-15 in 1944-45.

It was Oregon’s 12th season with 20 or more wins in the history

of the program.

The CBI tournament is in its fourth year. The Oregon State

Beavers won the 2009 title, defeating UTEP in three games.

Last year’s CBI champion was Virginia Commonwealth, which plays

Butler in an NCAA tournament semifinal Saturday.