The Oregon Ducks suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of San Jose State in MacArthur Court on Saturday. The 75-72 final score is a good indication of how hard-fought a contest it was. The lead changed hands ten times during the game; the score was tied six times. In the end, it turned out to be the least-sloppy team at the right time that emerged on top. Oregon fell to 3-1 on the season, SJSU improved to 2-0.
"I'm extremely disappointed," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. "I thought we had established some things throughout the week in practice."
Junior forward Jeremy Jacob put it on the players to pay better attention to their coach. "They just out-toughed us. Coach told us coming in that they averaged like 12 offensive boards a game and we just weren't buying into them. We have to listen to coach. Buy in. Just play harder."
Both teams started out slow and with 16:42 on the clock the score was tied 5-5. For the next ten minutes, San Jose State held the lead, stretching it to as much as seven points much of that time. Much of the deficit during this stretch could be attributed to sloppy ball security and spotty defensive rebounding. "Defensively I didn't like a lot of the things we did," said Altman. "Offensively our turnovers were really bad."
But with 4:16 left on the first half game clock, the Ducks finally broke through on a Garrett Sim three-pointer, taking the lead 29 to 28. The Ducks had the crowd roaring at the 3:38 mark on a set play alley-oop, perfectly executed from freshman Johnathan Loyd to junior Teondre Williams to go up by one again. Williams displayed his athleticism again at the end of the first half with a powerful throw-down dunk rebound. Mac Court was rocking as the Ducks went into the locker room up 39-34.
The Ducks came out in the second half and executed well enough for a 48-44 lead at the 14:20 mark. The next two minutes were a story of too-quick shots by Oregon and good shooting by the visitors. With 12:40 on the clock, the Spartans were suddenly up 54-48. They held the lead up until 5:35 when Sim tied it at 63 with a layup on a pass from Jay-R Strowbridge.
The game continued to be a closely fought battle still tied at 72 with two minutes left. Two turnovers down the stretch proved costly as the Ducks failed to score on their last three possessions. San Jose State was only able to score on one of theirs, but it was a three-point play by senior guard Justin Graham. "We had some bad possessions late; bad turnovers, bad shots," said Altman. "I thought we had a better idea of what we wanted but obviously I didn't do my job. We've got a lot of work to do, I told the guys that."
Probably the biggest problem for the Ducks was that it didn't take long for the Spartans to establish themselves on the boards, something Coach Altman addressed in his post-game comments. "We got beat on the boards. They really set the tone the first ten minutes of the game with their offensive rebounding."
At halftime both teams had 14 defensive rebounds. The big difference at that time, even though the Ducks led 39-34, was that San Jose State had 14 offensive rebounds to the Ducks eight. At the end of the game the rebounding differential did not improve for Oregon. SJSU ended with 19 offensive boards for 49 total rebounds, the Ducks 13 and 39. Joevan Catron was the lone reliable force on the glass for the home team, finishing with nine.
One of the bright spots for Oregon was the play of junior forward Jeremy Jacob who returned from knee surgery for the first time this season. "I thought he gave us great effort," said Altman. "He did a lot of good things. He hit some shots for us obviously at 4-6, played 14 minutes, four boards. With his activity, he did a lot of good things."
Jacob was not as kind in his assessment of himself. "A little rust," evaluated Jacob. "I didn't catch the ball once when E.J. threw it to me. I should have caught that. Once we get back together and get gelling I think everything will be all right."
The Ducks have a chance to get back on the horse right away, with a Tuesday home game against Texas Southern. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 7:00pm.