Morgan St.-Oregon Preview
Although he has one of the highest-scoring clubs in the nation, coach Dana Altman realizes Oregon can't rely on its offense alone to reach its goals in the Pac-12.
He's hoping the Ducks can improve their defense and rebounding in time for the start of conference play.
Playing for the first time in eight days, No. 12 Oregon looks to extend its best start in seven years in its final non-conference game Sunday against Morgan State in Eugene.
The Ducks (11-0) rank among the nation's leaders with 90.3 points per game, 51.1 percent field-goal shooting and 42.4 percent from 3-point range. They have already tied a single-season school record by reaching 100 points in four games, but they've also let two of their last four opponents score more than 95 in overtime wins.
The latest such performance was a 100-96 victory over visiting BYU last Saturday, after which Altman said his team was lucky to keep its perfect record intact.
While Oregon shot a season-low 40.7 percent, Altman was more concerned with his team's struggles defensively and on the boards. The Ducks were outrebounded 51-40, allowed 47 first-half points and a season-high 47.2 field-goal percentage overall.
"I think we can get better defensively, which we have to do," Altman said. "And we have to get better on the boards."
Oregon trailed for most of the contest and was down by six points with 1:58 left before forcing overtime. Damyean Dotson's driving bucket with 35 seconds left put the Ducks ahead for good, then Joseph Young had a layup and Mike Moser hit two free throws to put away the game.
Jason Calliste came up big with a career-high 31 points, making all 13 of his free throws and adding four 3-pointers. Young scored 25 and matched a season high with four 3s.
The Ducks play their Pac-12 opener Thursday at Utah, and five of their first seven conference games will come on the road.
"We can't start off the games from behind because when five of the seven games are away with the crowd against us, it's going to be kind of tough to do what we did," said Young, who leads Oregon with 19.8 points per game and 25 3-pointers.
The Ducks now have a chance to win their first 12 games for the fifth time in school history. They're in the midst of their best start since 2006-07 when they started 13-0 and went on to reach the NCAA tournament regional finals.
They've won 23 straight home games against non-conference foes by an average of 19.3 points.
Morgan State (3-8) shouldn't threaten that streak in its first meeting with Oregon. The Bears have lost their four road contests by an average of 23.0 points, including an 89-50 defeat at then-No. 11 Ohio State on Nov. 9 in their only game against a ranked team.
They have won three of five since an 0-6 start but are coming off an 86-80 loss at Cal State Northridge on Friday. Morgan State was beaten 44-34 on the boards and has a minus-4.3 rebounding margin.
Oregon should keep an eye on guard Justin Black and 7-foot-2 center Ian Chiles after they combined for 43 points Friday. Black has totaled 47 points in the past two contests while Chiles has added 37 with 15 rebounds and six blocks.