PORTLAND- Even with a late flurry, the high-flying Oregon offense was held twenty points beneath its average clip, but it didn't impact the final result, as Oregon improved to 9-0, their best start since the 2006-07.
Oregon needed 30 points in the final 13 minutes of play just reach the final total of 71, they'd averaged a near NCAA best 91 entering the game, in their 71-64 win over Illinois (9-2) at the Moda Center in Portland.
"We just didn't have the energy and I'm not sure why, but I didn't like our energy or our pace most of the night," Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. "I think you could visibly see that change in energy the last ten minutes – we were getting up and down, we executed some things and our presses helped establish that pace."
But more importantly the scoring rush, led by a 17-4 run, gave them a late lead and eventual win.
"The second half, we did a better job of controlling the tempo – it was speeding them up on defense so we can get a quicker run to the offensive end," Moser said. "It just opened up more opportunities for us in the second half and we controlled the tempo."
No basket was more critical than point guard Johnathan Loyd's jumper with 28.5 seconds left that gave the Ducks a two-possession lead. Loyd would go on to score the final six points of the game.
Regardless of the below average offensive output, the team's balance carried over. Once again, five players reached double figures, led by 14 from Joseph Young and Mike Moser.
Moser also tallied nine rebounds as an additional gift for his homecoming game.
It was a special night for Moser, who attended Grant HS in Portland, with his career coming full circle with a return trip to the city he grew up in.
"Ah man, it felt incredible, even ten times better that we won the game," Moser said of playing in front of his family and friends.
Elgin Cook, Damyean Dotson and Loyd also reached double figures.
Neither side was able to gain distance between the other in the first half, with the game tied at 32 entering the break.
Oregon scored five of the first seven of the half, but Illinois scored 16-of-20 points to take a nine-point lead.
Reserves Calliste and Cook combined for a 7-0 run to cut it to two points.
The game certainly featured two competing styles of play, with the Illini entering the game holding teams in the 50s this season and the Ducks scoring in the 90s.
The Ducks finished 29-for-52 from the field, tallying the fifth consecutive game over 50-percent from the field.
Oregon plays UC-Irvine at home Tuesday. As the tenth game of the season, it will mark the first game in which Ben Carter and Dominic Artis will be eligible to play.
The pair were suspended nine games by the NCAA due to the selling of team shoes.
Altman says he is uncertain of how they'll be re-inserted into the line-up.