Oregon Sweeps Rivalry Series For Altman’s 750th Win

By Matt Brumley

EUGENE, Ore. — Balanced scoring and gritty second-half defense were the keys to success as Oregon men’s basketball prevailed, 78-71, over rival Oregon State for the second time in 12 days, earning head coach Dana Altman his 750th-career victory on Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.

After having numerous comeback attempts in the second half denied, the Ducks (19-9, 11-6 Pac-12) held the Beavers (12-17, 4-14 Pac-12) without a field goal for over six minutes towards the end of the period, allowing them to jump out in front and build a lead they did not surrender down the stretch.

Oregon had five players reach double figures, led by 22 points and nine rebounds from Kwame Evans Jr.. The freshman scored 14 in the second half, attacking the rim with aggression and knocking down free throws in the late stages in addition to big contributions on the defensive end.

“Tonight KJ [Evans Jr.] had his nose going to the goal,” Altman said. “He got to the free-throw line more, he finished more, and did a tremendous job finishing plays at the rim which he’s struggled doing.”

“I just focused on defense, it starts with me on defense,” Evans Jr. said. “I have to be able to talk to everybody and just get stops, we all have to talk to get stops, and then just play within the game and get shots here and there. They were looking for me so I was knocking them down.”

Jermaine Couisnard poured in 16 points and notched six assists in 37 minutes of play, while Brennan Rigsby dropped 14 off of the bench. N’Faly Dante and Jackson Shelstad each finished the game with 11 points, with the former grabbing seven boards as well.

How It Happened: Oregon State point guard Jordan Pope gave Oregon trouble in the first half, utilizing a high pick-and-roll to score 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor after scoring just 10 total in the previous meeting between the two rivals. The Beavers sank 11 of their first 14 attempts from the field, including seven-straight as part of a 9-0 scoring run that had the Ducks trailing 24-18.

“In the first half we gave him [Pope] a couple of early ones that got him going and we didn’t stop him in the first half at all,” Altman said. “In the second half I think he got a little tired but we didn’t give him quite as good of looks, I thought a few of them were contested.”

Needing a change defensively, Oregon employed a full-court press that frustrated the Beavers and held them scoreless across the next four minutes. The aggressive defense forced Oregon State into eight turnovers in the half which helped the Ducks back into the game. With 4:49 on the clock, Rigsby knocked down a three from the corner to take back the lead before a steal on defense just seconds later set Rigsby up for a two-handed jam which capped a 7-0 scoring run, putting Oregon on top 30-26. Three makes from the charity stripe from Evans Jr. in the final minute helped Oregon take a 35-33 lead into the halftime break.

Oregon State regained its offensive rhythm out of the locker room, rattling off a 9-0 scoring run that put the Beavers back on top 44-39 at the first media timeout. The Ducks came back to tie the game four times across the next three minutes, but the Beavers had an answer for each attempt. At the nine-minute mark, the breakthrough for Oregon finally came as the ball found its way to Dante who dunked it and pushed the Ducks back in front, 55-53.

With the lead back in hand, UO turned the defensive intensity up once again as they held Oregon State without a field goal across a six-minute stretch to take control of the game and slowly build its lead. Thanks to five points from Evans Jr., Oregon outscored Oregon State 10-2 across the six-minute span and increased its advantage to 10 as the game approached the final two minutes.

The Beavers broke their shooting spell with a 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining, then forced a Duck turnover which led to another connection from deep and quickly turned it into a five-point contest. Rigsby stepped in to put an end to the threat, making three free-throws with down the stretch and throwing down an emphatic dunk in traffic to help Oregon secure a regular-season sweep of Oregon State.

Notables: With the win, Altman becomes the sixth active coach to reach 750 NCAA Division I wins in a career, with 340 of his victories coming at UO. N’Faly Dante also eclipsed 1,000 career points during the contest.

Up Next: The Ducks travel to the desert to take on No. 6 Arizona in Tucson on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT on ESPN.