by Rob Moseley
LAS VEGAS — Jalil Abdul-Bassit couid sense it during warmups.
"How does it feel?" sophomore Ben Carter asked the UO junior guard Wednesday prior to Oregon's first-round Pac-12 Tournament matchup against Oregon State.
"It feels flat," Abdul-Bassit said.
A junior college transfer, Abdul-Bassit hasn't played major minutes for the Ducks this season. But he's clearly capable of taking the pulse of the team. Because once Wednesday's game tipped off, Oregon missed its first nine shots, and the Beavers scored the first nine points.
Thanks to the contributions of the UO bench, however, the Ducks (23-8) moved on with an 88-74 victory in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, their eighth straight win. Carter, Dominic Artis, Elgin Cook and Jason Calliste were on the floor for decisive UO runs in each half Wednesday, setting up a quarterfinal matchup against second-seeded UCLA on Thursday night (6 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks).
"As soon as we got in there, we turned it on and the game kind of turned around," Carter said. "From that point on we really knew that we could get this thing going, and that this lineup was good for us tonight."
As the tournament's No. 7 seed, the Ducks knew they'd need their bench if they were to play four games in four days, and reach the tournament final. They just probably didn't know the bench would essentially win a game on its own.
But, as UO assistant Kevin McKenna pointed out to the team in the locker room, Oregon's bench outscored its OSU counterparts by an astounding 46-6.
"That's a team, guys," McKenna said.
"We had a lot of contributions from a lot of guys," head coach Dana Altman told the players in the locker room. "If we're going to finish strong, that's what it's gotta be. We're a team, fellas."
The quartet of Artis, Calliste, Carter and Cook first took the floor together early in the first half, the Ducks trailing 15-7. Teaming with Damyean Dotson, the group was asked to press on defense and responded with a 19-4 run.
Cook was everywhere during the spurt, scoring, rebounding and forcing turnovers, including drawing a charge. He finished with a game-high three steals.
"I think it sped them up just a little bit," Cook said of the press, which contributed to 15 OSU turnovers, compared to five for Oregon.
Oregon led 26-19 by the end of the run. Carter went to the bench shortly after with his second foul, and OSU took advantage by attacking the post to get within 41-40 at halftime.
The two teams went back and forth to start the second half, OSU taking a 57-54 lead on an Angus Brandt three-pointer with 14:26. Minutes later, Artis, Calliste, Carter and Cook were reunited, this time with Joseph Young.
The Beavers ended up going 8:24 between made baskets, with the Ducks putting together another 19-4 run. At one point Young scored 10 straight for Oregon, on a series of acrobatic drives to the basket.
Young finished with a UO-high 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half, after he watched the reserves overcome Oregon's slow start in the first.
"I was on the bench like, 'They might as well stay out there and keep playing,'" Young said. "They were out there doing a great job. We need more of that, and we need it tomorrow."
It was Dotson on the floor with the Artis-Carter-Calliste-Cook quartet in the first half. Before they began their run, Dotson said he gathered with Artis, Carter and Cook, and realized that foursome figures to be a major part of the team's core next season.
"We were like, this could be the team next year," Dotson said. "We could see how it is to play together, and we just went out and played hard."
Dotson was particularly happy for his roommate and fellow sophomore Artis, who had 10 points and six assists in 23 minutes. It's been a trying year for Artis, beginning with a nine-game suspension, but he enjoyed a big night Wednesday.
"I was proud of him," Dotson said.
Artis' play meant the Ducks only used 15 minutes from starting point guard Johnathan Loyd in the first round. Similarly, Carter's 20 minutes kept Waverly Austin on the bench for all but seven, and Dotson only needed to play 23.
"We saved our legs," said Young, who played 27 minutes. "I don't feel tired or anything."
Credit that to the big minutes from Artis, Carter, Calliste and Cook, behind whose efforts the Ducks live to fight another day. They'll next try to repeat the feat from Loyd's freshman year in 2011, when the seventh-seeded Ducks won in the first round, then met No. 2 seed UCLA in the quarterfinals and won, 76-59.
"Fellas, I want you to be pleased," Altman told the team, "but not in any way satisfied."
NOTES: Oregon's 46-6 advantage in bench scoring was led by Calliste (17), Artis (10) and Carter (eight). UO’s scoring margins were plus-28 with Calliste in the game, plus-25 with Artis and plus-24 with Carter. … In the first postseason meeting between the two schools, Oregon won the 342nd edition of the Civil War. … Loyd passed Luke Ridnour (2000-03) for fourth in career steals with his 151st career swipe on Wednesday. … Oregon's 80-percent shooting in the second half (16-of-20) was the team's best in any half this season. … Artis' 10 points were his most since tallying 10 against USC on Feb. 6. He added six assists, his most since a season-high seven at Colorado on Jan. 5. … UO shot 64 percent from three-point range (10-of-16). Oregon has made 71 three-pointers in its past eight games, all victories, averaging 8.9 per game in that stretch.