by Rob Moseley
It was written somewhere, after Oregon's offensive explosion against Western Carolina last week, that points wouldn't always come so easy for the Ducks.
That, some nights, defense and rebounding would have to provide the UO men's basketball team with an edge. Last Wednesday against the Catamounts wasn't one of those nights. Tuesday against Utah Valley most certainly was.
Six days after one of the most impressive offensive outbursts in school history, points were at a premium Tuesday. But the Ducks countered with season-best defense and a plus-12 rebounding advantage, coming away with a 69-54 victory over the Wolverines at Matthew Knight Arena.
"We had to get stops tonight," senior guard Jason Calliste said. "All the other games it was easy flow, and guys had it going. Once you get it going, you can outscore a team. That's not how it's going to happen every night."
Tuesday's performance was far from perfect. Oregon scored 17 unanswered points early in the first half, then had a 16-0 run in the second. Those were decisive stretches as the No. 17 Ducks improved to 3-0 on the young season.
The rest of the night was somewhat uneven, as Utah Valley rallied from an early 20-4 deficit to within 29-25 at halftime, and lost by 15 after falling behind by as much as 23 in the second half.
"There were some bright spots," UO coach Dana Altman said. "But we're not taking care of the fundamentals."
Indeed, it was a fairly gloomy postgame interview session. Though Utah Valley came into the night shooting .392 for the season, and managed just .379 on Tuesday — against an Oregon team that allowed its first two opponents to shoot .458 — "that's not good enough," Calliste said.
"Coach is not happy; guys are not happy," Calliste said. "If we want to be good, that's not good enough."
Calliste sparked Oregon defensively in the second half, Altman said. That helped the Ducks score 16 straight and stretch their lead from 37-33 to 53-33, a margin that eventually reached 23 before slipping back to 15.
Moser said Monday that a quick start Tuesday was one of his goals, and so Oregon's early 20-4 lead — thanks to a 17-0 run — had to be encouraging. So too were some of the defensive spurts, and the rebounding edge — though the Ducks had a decided edge in size and athleticism in the game.
Despite those bright spots, though, nobody on the UO side was overly pleased with Tuesday's performance.
"We've got to get some consistency in practice," said Altman, whose team returns to action Sunday at 5 p.m. against visiting San Francisco. "We're practicing hard, but our attention to detail and focus apparently is not what it should be. So we've got to make some steps there."
OREGON-UTAH VALLEY NOTES
• No. 17 Oregon has opened the season with three straight wins with an average victory margin of 15.33.
• RS-junior guard Joseph Young has opened his UO career with three straight 20+ scoring games. He scored a team-high 20 points against Utah Valley on 8-of-15 shooting. Young is averaging 26.7 points per contest this season.
• Johnathan Loyd scored a season-high 12 points.
• Tonight marked the first meeting between the two schools.
• The first half consisted of two big runs, coming from both teams. Oregon opened a 17-0 run early in the first half to take a 20-4 lead. Later, UVU used a 17-3 run to pull within two (27-25).
• Waverly Austin matches his career high block total, blocking three shots in the first half.
• Oregon held a 42-30 advantage on the glass.
• The Ducks held Utah Valley to 29 second half points, outscoring them by 11 in the period to pull away.