Led by Payton Pritchard’s 22 points, No. 14 Oregon opened up the 2018 college basketball season with an 84-57 win over a pesky Portland State team. Pritchard, who missed the Ducks’ exhibition game last week with bruised ribs, finished the night 6-of-7 from the floor and 9-of-9 from the free throw line.
Five-star freshman center Bol Bol — the top player head coach Dana Altman has ever recruited to Eugene — finished the game with 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for the Ducks, despite getting off to a slow start and finding himself in foul trouble.
“He got a cheap one there in the first half… those are the ones he’s got to delete” Altman said of Bol’s foul trouble. “He’s an unusual guy to officiate so he’s going to get a couple here and there that are awkward fouls.”
Opening with Portland State meant that the Ducks (1-0) were going to be pushed as the Vikings (0-1) like to a play an up-tempo, in-your-face style of basketball that focuses on pressure and turnovers.
"They were pressing up so it was going to be there," Pritchard said of the Ducks attacking the rim. "They tried to get steals, so we tried to get to the rim. We knew we were going to have a big size advantage, so we tried to use that."
In the beginning, the pace was really bothering Oregon. The Ducks were trailing 5-2 almost four minutes into the game, turning it over twice and settling for contested jumpers and out-of-control layups.
“We got to do a better job of executing,” Altman said. “Disappointed with our physicality on the boards and physicality posting up — we're going to have to do a lot better job there.”
But as Pritchard became more comfortable, so did Oregon.
Leading 24-22 with 9:10 to play in the first half, Pritchard and the Ducks began to pull away with a 19-5 run over the next six minutes. With the Vikings still pressing, Pritchard found success driving to the rim, repeatedly attacking the Portland State bigs and either finishing, getting to the free throw line or kicking out to an open teammate.
"I got to be aggressive because when I'm aggressive other people get easy looks and I get to the rim, I get to the free throw line," Pritchard said.
Oregon went into the half leading 45-29 as Pritchard had 18 points and three assists at the break.
The second half began in similar fashion as the start of the game did, with the Vikings pushing and controlling the tempo and the Ducks looking overwhelmed. Portland State got the deficit down to 11, 57-46, with 11:04 to play.
But, just as the Vikings were making it a game, Pritchard raced down the other end and got a quick layup for the Ducks, igniting a 12-0 run over the next four minutes that ultimately put the game away.
The highlight of the second half came when Oregon sophomore center Kenny Wooten, one of the best shot blockers in the nation, rejected Portland State’s Jamie Orme’s dunk attempt with two hands, putting Orme on the ground as the ball sailed out of bounds.
Senior forward Paul White ended with 15 points and a game-high +/- of 29. Freshman Francis Okoro added 10 points and six rebounds while freshman guard Will Richardson, who wasn’t expected to play, finished with all seven of his points in the final seven minutes.
“His basketball savvy, his work ethic, he’s going to be a real good player for us,” Altman said of Richardson.
Leading Portland State was Holland “Boo Boo” Woods with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting while Orme chipped in 11 points.
The Ducks return to action on Friday, November 9 when they host Eastern Washington (0-1). Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.