W. Carolina-Oregon Preview
Judging by its season opener, Oregon's high-profile transfers may give the team enough offense to overcome the absences of two other players.
After playing across the Pacific Ocean, the 18th-ranked Ducks try to get some more help from their newest additions in Wednesday night's home opener against Western Carolina.
Before heading to Oregon, Joseph Young averaged 18.0 points for Houston last season, and he scored 24 in his debut for the Ducks on Saturday, an 82-75 win over Georgetown. He got half of those points by going 12-for-12 from the free throw line at Camp Humphreys, a U.S. Army base near Seoul, South Korea.
Mike Moser, a former UNLV forward, contributed 15 points, seven rebounds and six steals as Oregon trailed only in the early portions of each half. Jason Calliste, who scored 14.4 per game at Detroit last season, went 11-for-11 from the foul line scored 16.
Those new players helped offset the loss of potential starting guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter, who are suspended for the first nine games of this season for selling team apparel.
"Ben and Dominic are two good young men who made a poor decision that was against NCAA rules," coach Dana Altman told the team's website. "I feel that both regret their decisions and the impact that it has on their teammates and our university. ... We'll just make adjustments."
Artis and Carter will serve much of their suspension during a six-game homestand that begins against the unbeaten Catamounts (2-0).
Western Carolina was set to return all five starters from last season's 14-19 squad, but Trey Sumler, the Southern Conference's second-leading scorer from 2012-13, is suspended indefinitely. The senior guard, who averaged 18.4 points last season, is reportedly facing an assault and battery charge stemming from an incident with a fellow student in September, and has a court appearance set for the middle of the next month.
Reserve forward Josh Mendenhall is also suspended and faces a similar charge for his role in the same incident.
Junior guard James Sinclair is averaging team highs of 15.0 points, 4.5 assists and 4.5 steals in Sumler's absence. He led the way with 17 points, five assists and five steals in a 74-67 victory over UNC Asheville on Monday.
This game marks Western Carolina's first meeting with Oregon. The Catamounts have never beaten a Top 25 team, and lost 81-68 at then-No. 15 Georgetown on Dec. 15 in their latest game against a ranked team.
Oregon has won 15 straight games against non-conference opponents in Eugene, as well as its last 15 home openers.