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December 23, 2011

Ducks sweep Global Hoops Showcase

It was not a very pretty 3-day stretch for the Ducks (9-3), but they have to be satisfied with a 3-game sweep at the Global Sports Hoops Showcase this week, finishing off the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (5-7) Wednesday night, 55-45.

Seeming to have a lack of energy on the third day in a row of games at the Showcase, both teams struggled to accomplish anything on the offensive side of the ball early on.

The Ducks looked uncomfortable and stumbled to a 5-point deficit, 12-7, with 9:40 left to play in the first. Luckily, this would be their largest deficit of the game, as they worked their way up to a 25-20 halftime lead, thanks to a string of threes and jumpers from Devoe Joseph (10 pts, 8 rebs, 3 asts). Of the Duck's nine first half baskets, only one was assisted, displaying their nagging lack of fluidity and identity on offense.

The teams remained close throughout the majority of the second half, with the Ducks never giving up their lead, however, struggling to put SFA away when it had countless opportunities to do so.

"We'd build a comfortable lead, but then would allow an offensive rebound or two to let them tighten up the game," stressed a tired sounding Altman after the game.

With 2:44 to play and the Ducks hanging on to a 45-42 lead, jumpers by E.J. Singler (12 pts, 4 rebs) and Garrett Sim (8 pts, 2 rebs) pushed the lead to seven. They were then able to convert on 6 out of 8 free throw attempts in the final 1:07, closing the game on a 10-3 run.

"We found a way to win the game, which is essential, but we have got to figure out something offensively and on how to get the ball moving- it is our job as coaches to make this happen," Altman stated.

The Ducks posted a season-low 6 assists, however, outrebounded their opponent (32-30)- they are 5-0 this season when accomplishing that feat. They shot 42% (18-43) from the field, and were not as successful as last night from three, shooting just 28% (5-18) from beyond the arc. Despite finishing strong from the free-throw line, they struggled from the charity stripe for the majority of the game, shooting a below-average 61% (14-23).

The Lumberjacks were led by senior center Jereal Scott (16 pts, 6 rebs), and they continued to fire unsuccessfully from beyond the arc. They shot a meager 8% (1-12) from deep Wednesday night, leaving their three-game total in Eugene at 9% (3-35).

Olu Ashaolu (9 pts, 6 rebs, 2 stls) chipped in several big rebounds, but left the game briefly in the second half with an ankle injury. He returned shortly thereafter, and Altman assured after the game that he is fine. Johnathan Loyd (9 pts, 3 rebs) hit two threes in the second-half, but was one of three Ducks (Garrett Sim, Tony Woods) to post three turnovers.

The Ducks get a much-needed week of rest, as they return to the court for the beginning of Pac-12 Conference play, visiting Washington St. on Thursday (Dec. 29), followed by a Saturday New-Years Eve showdown at Washington (Dec. 31).

Though times have been tough, the Ducks have managed to maintain one of the top non-conference records in the Pac-12, trailing only Stanford (10-2), Oregon State (10-2), and California (10-2).

On the week of rest ahead, Altman added, "I told them to take three days off and relax. The guys are a little frustrated that offense is not rolling. Everybody likes to score baskets, their girlfriends like them to score, the media wants to talk to the top scorers, but offensively we are just not playing well."

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