With three starters missing from Tuesday afternoon’s game, Oregon was forced to play deep into its bench if it wanted to finish its homestand at a perfect 4-0.
The Ducks accomplished that feat as Victor Bailey Jr, who made his first career start, finished with a game-high 16 points in leading Oregon to a 71-64 win over Florida A&M (3-10).
Bailey Jr., who has been an offensive spark for the second unit, flashed his scoring potential and athleticism to pace the Ducks (8-3).
“He was great in the first half… he was being real aggressive on offense on defense, getting steals, being real disruptive, being an athletic guard that we know that he can be,” Oregon’s Paul White said of Bailey Jr. “He’s an athletic beast honestly — today I think he started to show some of that potential.”
However, despite the points, Bailey shot just 5-of-14 from the field and 2-of-9 from beyond the arc, numbers well below his season averages.
“I thought he’d been really disciplined with his footwork and his balance… today with his 3’s, I thought he got really loose with it,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “He did some good things offensively — he gives us a spark, he can score, just got to do a better job with his balance and his discipline on his shot.”
Bol Bol, Oregon’s five-star freshman, was out with a left foot injury he sustained two weeks ago while Abu Kigab was out with a sprained ankle. Both players wore walking boots and didn’t take part in any pregame warm-ups, walking noticeable limps.
The Ducks were limited another starter when Kenny Wooten, Oregon’s rim protector, didn’t start and played just 17 minutes while battling an illness.
White added 13 points and four assists while Payton Pritchard chipped in 10 points, four assists and four steals to pace the Ducks defensively.
It was an ugly game overall as Oregon struggled in the beginning and end portions of the game. But, the Ducks dominated the middle part en route to the win.
At the midway point of the first half, Oregon found itself trailing 18-10 as the Ducks had no offensive or defensive rhythm. Then Bailey Jr. ignited an 18-0 run over the next five minutes with six straight points to give the Ducks control.
The Ducks ended the first half on a 28-5 run as better offensive movement, combined with better shot selection and a stiffer defense, led to a 38-23 lead at the break.
Oregon extended its lead to 61-38 midway through the second half when Will Richardson (seven points, three rebounds) knocked down a three-pointer.
Instead of settling for the 20-point victory, the Ducks fell apart in the end as the Rattlers went on a 13-0 run to close out the game.
Oregon hits the road again for a contest against Baylor (6-4) on Friday in Waco, Texas. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN2.