Savannah St.-Oregon Preview
Oregon needed less than a day to prove that its move into the Top 25 was justified.
The Ducks are in position to climb higher in the rankings next week as a result, but they'll need to close out this week with a couple of victories, starting with a home game against Savannah State that's part of the Global Sports Shootout on Friday night.
Oregon (2-0) joined the poll at No. 25 on Monday, its first time being ranked since Jan. 6, 2014. The Ducks wasted little time in cementing that status as a ranked squad, defeating visiting No. 20 Baylor 74-67.
Elgin Cook and Chris Boucher scored 15 points each to lead five Ducks in double figures and Oregon held its own against the Bears on the boards, tying one of the top rebounding teams in the country last season at 35 apiece.
Frenetic pressure defense also played a key role in the victory.
''The difference in the game was our creating 18 turnovers for 28 points,'' coach Dana Altman said. ''Our press hurt them a little bit and we got some hands on some balls. So that was the difference, and we were able to stay even on the boards.''
Oregon forced Baylor to miss 11 of its last 13 attempts from the field to close the first half. It also went 18 of 30 on 2-point baskets overall to overcome a 6-for-25 effort from beyond the arc.
The Ducks have shot 46.2 percent from the field in their first two games.
“It's real big. This gives us a lot of confidence,” Cook said. “But at the same time, we've got to come to practice and work to get better tomorrow.”
Altman apparently agrees, perhaps concerned about a letdown with his team feeling satisfied over its early success.
“Savannah is 2-0 (now 3-0) and (Valparaiso, which visits Sunday) is a really good team … it's really important that we have a couple of good days,” he told the team's official Twitter account Tuesday.
Though it's only two games, Oregon has shown signs that its depth and balance could be difficult for opponents to handle. The Ducks have placed five scorers in double figures in both contests and four players had at least five rebounds against Baylor.
“We're not an overly big team,” forward Dillon Brooks told the team's Twitter account. “We're just fast, quick and greedy.”
Savannah State beat Arkansas State 76-75 on Wednesday. Troyce Manassa scored 19 points and shot 7 of 9 while Brian Pearson's two late free throws allowed Savannah State to win after trailing 22-9 early.
The Tigers have won their last two by a combined three points.
Christopher Martin turned in his third straight strong game, scoring 15 points on 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Martin, averaging a career-high 16.0 points in his first season as a full-time starter, has made 48.4 percent from the field and 55.6 from beyond the arc.
Savannah State has lost 16 straight to ranked teams dating to November 2003. The Tigers faced two Top 25 squads last season in Louisville and Miami and were outscored 157-65.
Oregon won the last meeting with Savannah State 83-23 in November 2005.