It’s been a rough week for No. 21 Oregon.
Five days after suffering the worst defeat under head coach Dana Altman, the Ducks had a chance to turn things around when they traveled to Houston to face the undefeated Cougars.
Despite a slow and dismal start, Oregon had a chance to tie the game late but eventually fell 65-61 to Houston (6-0). The loss, the Ducks’ second in a row, not only drops their overall record to 4-3 but probably out of the national rankings as well.
"We have a lot of work to do," Altman said. "We are not a very good basketball team, so we have a lot of work to do."
Freshman Bol Bol led the comeback attempt with 23 points, seven rebounds and three blocks while fellow freshman Will Richardson added a career-high 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
With 2:30 remaining in the game, Oregon found itself trailing 60-46. But, showing the fight they lacked for much of the night, Paul White got the rally started with an and-one attempt. Bol and Richardson took over the rest of the way, combining to score the final 12 points for the Ducks.
Following a Bol and-one and two Richardson free throws, the Ducks got another gift when Houston went 1-of-2 from the free throw line with 18 second left. Richardson then found Bol for a dunk, making the score 63-61 with 10 seconds left — but the Cougars closed it out with two free throws in the end.
The game got off to an awful start for Oregon as the Ducks found themselves in a massive hole. Houston, which shot the ball well in the first half, faced little resistance from Oregon’s defense.
"We froze… we were awful," Altman said of the first half. " No transition points, points off turnovers they had a big advantage, second chance points — we were down by 19, it was just bad half of basketball… when you dig a hole 19 down, it's hard to come back."
Despite the play of the freshman, no other Duck scored in double-figures. Playing particularly bad was point guard Payton Pritchard and forward Paul White, the veteran leaders of the team. They combined to score 11 points on 4-of-18 shooting, including a 2-for-13 showing from beyond the arc.
For the game, Oregon shot 39.6-percent (21-of-53) for the game and 23.1-percent (6-of-26) from three-point territory. The Ducks committed 23 fouls — leading to 23 free throw attempts by Houston — and turned the ball over 16 times.
Oregon will now have one week off before hosting Omaha (3-5) on Saturday, December 8 at 5 p.m.