Oregon guard Devoe Joseph
Behind a game-high 25 points by senior guard Devoe Joseph, the Oregon men sprinted to a 96-76 win over the LSU Tigers in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
For the third time in four games, the Ducks scored 90 points as a team and cruised to victory, with their 96-76 win over the visiting LSU Tigers Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT. Led by senior guard Devoe Joseph’s 25 points, Oregon got back to their winning ways after suffering a bitter one-point loss to Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament last Thursday, effectively eliminating the Ducks from any potential chance at an NCAA Tournament berth. Though the loss was still fresh in many of the players’ minds, for Joseph, it was about moving past an opportunity missed and working toward an opportunity given.
“You know, it’s always going to be a little bit disappointing,” said Joseph of he and his team missing out on the NCAA Tournament. “But we still have opportunities here to do something big. That’s kind of our [mentality] and we want to try to get to New York and that can be another great experience.”
LSU’s experience in Eugene was anything but great. After jumping out to an early 8-3 lead to start the game, the Tigers succumbed to a furious Oregon rally that eventually saw the Ducks head in to the break with a 50-33 lead.
“They went on a five minute spurt,” said LSU head coach Trent Johnson. “They shot really well and executed.
“I have a lot of respect for Dana [Altman] and I have watched Garrett Sim and E.J. Singler since I was at Stanford. I have said they are the best team from start to finish in the Pac-12.”
For the game, the Ducks shot a blistering 57.6 percent from the field, making 9-of-17 three-point attempts, while only turning the ball over eight times compared to LSU’s 17 turnovers, which the Ducks converted in to 22 points. From wire to wire, Oregon’s performance was -- by all accounts -- dominant; looking like a team scorned after their disheartening finish to conference tournament play.
“We were really active and we really moved the ball a lot better tonight,” said Oregon head coach Dana Altman after the game. “We were really hurt with our performance in the conference tournament; we let ourselves, fans, and teammates down and I think it’s a credit to the seniors, they all wanted to play [tonight].”
Five Ducks scored in double-figures Tuesday night, as Joseph, Sim (15 points), E.J. Singler (11 points), and Carlos Emory (11 points) responded well in bounce back efforts after posting poor showings against Colorado in Los Angeles. Yet, arguably the most surprising player of late has been the offensive emergence of junior center, Tony Woods, who continued his impressive low-post play by matching the career-high in points he set against the Buffaloes last week; scoring 14 points on an efficient 6-of-8 shooting from the field.
“He’s just become more aggressive,” said Altman of Woods’ evolution of late. “His nose has been going to the rim and because of his athleticism and his length, that jump hook is really hard to guard...I’m not sure if he had a revelation while he was sitting there and figured something out, but whatever it is, I like it!”
Oregon now moves to the second round of NIT where they will face the Iowa Hawkeyes after the Hawkeyes’ 84-75 win over Dayton. While Altman admits that not much is known about Iowa, he did say he was impressed with their ball movement as he caught a small portion of the Dayton game before tip-off versus LSU.
“I thought their ball movement was good, I thought they shot it good, I know they’re well coached, and I know we’ll have to play really well [to win].”
Tip-off against Iowa is set for 2:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena. Live telecast of the game can be seen on ESPNU.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney