by Rob Moseley
There will be times this season when defense and rebounding will be crucial for the Oregon men's basketball team.
Other times. Because Wednesday was not one of those.
Joseph Young's career-high 36 points led the No. 18 Ducks' offensive outburst in a 107-83 nonconference win over Western Carolina before 6,262 in Matthew Knight Arena. Young scored 28 in the second half, as Oregon (2-0) pulled away from a two-point lead over the Catamounts at the break.
"The lane was open, so I just felt like attacking," said Young, a junior transfer from Houston. "With the new (hand-checking) rule, if you attack and they put a hand on you, that's an automatic foul. I took advantage of that."
Young was 15-of-16 from the free-throw line, improving to 27-of-28 through two games. He also made 9-of-12 from the field and 3-of-5 three-pointers Wednesday, as the Ducks shot 65.3 percent overall (32-of-49) and made 8-of-14 threes, including 7-of-8 after halftime.
The Catamounts (2-1) grabbed the game's first nine rebounds to take an early 12-8 lead. Oregon senior Mike Moser's 15 first-half points helped the Ducks pull ahead 30-20, but defensive breakdowns allowed Western Carolina to within 41-39 at halftime.
"A very good offensive performance saved us," said UO coach Dana Altman, whose team shot 40.8 percent to beat Georgetown last week. "Defensively and on the boards we've got a long way to go."
The Ducks exceeded any offensive effort from last season, with the 107 points their most since 108 against Iowa in the 2012 NIT. Young's 36 were the most by a UO player since Tajuan Porter hit for 38 against Portland State in the 2006-07 season opener.
Young hit a three-pointer to open the second half, and went on to score 17 of the Ducks' first 25 points out of the break.
"When his eyes get like that, we kind of start cheerleading, and feeding him the ball," said Moser, who finished with 26 points.
A three-pointer from Moser gave the Ducks a 71-55 lead before the Catamounts mounted their only second-half rally, to within 73-67. Oregon responded with a 32-10 run fueled by 11 more points from Young and nine from Elgin Cook, who finished with 16.
The Ducks finished the second half shooting 20-of-27, with the 7-of-8 three-point effort opening up the lane even more for Young and Cook to get to the hoop.
"Driving the ball to the basket's really important," Altman said. "But we're going to face bigger teams, and a lot better teams."
Altman said the Ducks have "a long way to go defensively," despite Oregon's holding the Catamounts without a field goal for a stretch of 8:20 in the first half. Western Carolina ended up shooting 45.8 percent for the game, with Trey Sumler scoring 29 in his first appearance after missing two games due to suspension.
And though the Catamounts grabbed the game's first nine rebounds, the two teams finished even for the night on the boards, with 29 apiece.
"If the guys want to have a nice year and have fun, they're going to have to guard and rebound a lot better than we have the last two games," Altman said. "And they know it. They know we're giving up too many easy baskets. We'll do a better job."
Because of all that offense, however, the Ducks could afford not to on Wednesday night.
WESTERN CAROLINA AT OREGON POSTGAME NOTES
FINAL: Oregon 107, Western Carolina 83
• Oregon scored 107 points, shooting well over 50% in both field goal attempts (33-50/.660) and three point attempts (8-14/.571). The last time the Ducks scored over 100 points came on March 18, 2012, in an NIT contest with Iowa (108).
• RS-Junior guard Joseph Young scored a career-high 36 points, setting a Matthew Knight Arena record. Young went 9-of-12 from the floor and made 15-of-16 free throw attempts. Young scored 28 points in the second half. It was the most points by an Oregon Duck since Tajuan Porter dropped 38 on Portland State in the 2006-07 season opener.
• RS-Senior forward Mike Moser scored a season-high 26 points, making 9-of-14 FG attempts.
• Joseph Young (36) and Mike Moser (26) each had 20+ points. The last time UO had two 20-point scorers came on Feb. 16, 2013, at Washington State with E.J. Singler (25) and Carlos Emory (20) leading the way.
• Johnathan Loyd had three assists to pass Malcolm Armstead (305/2009-11) for ninth on the UO career list. Loyd finished the game with 307 career assists.
• Oregon went on a 16-3 run to open a 24-15 lead at the 7:45 mark in the first half after trailing early.
• WCU was held without a field goal for a stretch of 8:20 in the first half.
• Through two regular season games, Oregon is averaging 35.5 made free throws per contest and is shooting 78% from the charity stripe. Joseph Young has made 27-of-28 FT attempts.