by Rob Moseley
His night actually began with a miss, which Damyean Dotson put well behind him by evening's end. Along with three games' worth of offensive futility.
Oregon's sophomore wing, the Ducks' top returning scorer, had yet to crack double digits in the early going this season. That ended Sunday, when Dotson scored 17 to lead six players in double figures as the 17th-ranked UO men's basketball team (4-0) beat visiting San Francisco, 100-82.
On a night Oregon's leading scorer, Joseph Young, was held to 12 points, Dotson's rejuvenated shooting stroke and the well-rounded offensive effort more than compensated.
"Our ball movement offensively wasn't too bad," Oregon's Dana Altman said, high praise from a coach who has set the bar for this team exceedingly high. "We popped it around pretty good, made shots for each other."
Though the Ducks finished with a slight rebounding advantage, and held USF to 36.8 percent shooting, Altman was less pleased with those two aspects of the game. For the second time in three games, though, Oregon got more than enough offense to overcome any other deficiencies.
Elgin Cook led Oregon with 18 points off the bench, Jason Calliste hit all three of his three-point attempts to add 16 points, and Mike Moser had 13. Johnathan Loyd added 11, and was the catalyst for the ball movement Altman spoke so highly of, finishing with six assists.
Of those six players who scored in double figures, Dotson was the only one who hadn't done so prior to Sunday. That made his 7-of-12 shooting night perhaps the game's most welcome development.
"I just wasn't focused," Dotson said of his previous efforts. "I was just pressing to make the shot. This game I was just letting it go and not thinking about it."
Dotson hit a three-pointer early on, his first of the season, which seemed to get him into rhythm.
"He just wanted to score; everybody does," Altman said. "You start thinking that way and the first couple don't go, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on you.
"You've just got to go out and play the game, let shots come to you. Concentrate on defense and rebounding, which you've got control over."
One guy who certainly got that message from the start Sunday was the sophomore JC transfer Cook. The athletic forward complemented his team-high 18 points with six rebounds, three assists and three steals, with just one turnover.
During the 26 minutes Cook was on the court Sunday — including the final 15:46 of the game — the Ducks were 20 points better than USF. For as well as Loyd played, for example, Oregon was plus-12 while he was on the court. (Young was plus-26 for the night, the only Duck above Cook.)
"He's definitely our X factor," Moser said of Cook. "The way he can defend one through five, rebounding, even bringing it (offensively). He's just so versatile. He brings a whole different dimension to our team."
Cook first took the court with Oregon down 10-9, and made a jumper after which the Ducks never trailed. The lead was 22-16 when Cook left, then was down to 28-24 when he returned for the rest of the first half, which ended with Oregon up 40-35.
Cook entered early in the second half with the Ducks ahead 50-44, and remained out there the rest of the night as the lead extended to as much as 19.
"I thought he was a difference maker," Altman said.
The final score might have been much more one-sided but for some fundamental breakdowns by Oregon, particularly in the first half. The Ducks were 4-of-11 from the free-throw line at halftime — including an inexplicable 0-of-4 by Young — and had surrendered nine of the 16 offensive rebounds USF would grab on the night.
Oregon's 11-of-19 three-point shooting made up for that, as did holding the Dons to 31.6 percent shooting in the first half, though USF shot 43.3 percent in the second.
"They're not helping each other out, not playing as a unit," Altman said. "That's my job to get them doing that, and right now I'm not doing a very good job."
A glaring lapse occurred just before halftime. Twice USF got shooters open for three-pointers at the top of the circle after Oregon miscommunicated on defense and didn't switch off correctly. That cut Oregon's first-half lead from 40-29 to 40-35, a microcosm of the Ducks' inability to pull away from USF earlier in the evening despite chances to do so.
"We're playing well in spurts right now," Moser said. "We're trying to make it where it's a full half, or a full 30 minutes. Someday we'll get to a full 40 minutes."
NOTES: UO had six players reach double-figures in scoring for the first time since 12-11-10 versus Willamette. … Oregon had two 90+ scoring games last season (91 vs. Houston Baptist; 95 vs. UT-San Antonio). Through four games this year, they’ve scored at least 100 points on two occasions. (107 vs. Western Carolina; 100 vs. San Francisco). … Oregon takes an 8-2 lead in the series history with San Francisco. … Loyd passed NBA All-Star Terrell Brandon on the UO career assists list (318). … UO made 33-of-60 FG attempts (.550), shooting over 50 percent from the floor for the second time this season. … Junior Jalil Abdul-Bassit made his first career appearance as a Duck after recovering from an injury. He is the ninth newcomer to see action this season. … Oregon finished with a 23-4 advantage in fast break points. … UO has scored at least 80 points in 3-of-4 games this season. … After being out-rebounded 23-19 in the first half, Oregon finished with a 39-38 advantage on the glass. Mike Moser led the way with eight boards.