Normally an early nonconference game between Oregon and a winless Southwestern Athletic Conference team would generate little interest on the national level. But it figures be a historic evening for the Ducks and head coach Dana Altman on Friday night when they host Alabama State.
Altman has 599 career head coaching wins and, barring a colossal upset, should become just the 34th coach in Division I history to reach 600 wins on Friday night. Only nine of those coaches are still active. “You do reflect just a little bit,” Altman told GoDucks.com. “But I have had really good guys to work with for a really long time.” Altman, who directed the Ducks to their first Final Four since 1939 last season, received his first Division I head coaching job at Marshall during the 1989-90 season and still remembers his first win, a 81-74 defeat of Army in a tournament at the University of Virginia. “I remember being really nervous,” said Altman, who also coached at Kansas State (1990-94) and Creighton (1994-2010) before ending up in Eugene. “I was really excited to play the first game at the University of Virginia. ... It was an exciting time.”
TV: 11 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT ALABAMA STATE (0-3): This is the fourth of an seven-game opening road trip for the Hornets who return three starters from an 8-23 squad. Alabama State, expected to contend for the SWAC title, opened with a 96-68 loss at Mississippi State and followed that up with a 92-58 setback at Iowa and a 94-63 loss at South Dakota State. Junior forward Ed Jones leads the team in scoring (10.7 points per game) while sophomore guard Reginald Gee also is averaging in double figures (10.3).
ABOUT OREGON (2-0): Sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard is the only returning starter from the Final Four squad which lost by one point to eventual national champion North Carolina in the semifinals. However, the cupboard is hardly bare with 6-foot-7 freshman swingman Troy Brown, a potential one-and-done recruit who is averaging a team best 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds and is also a terrific passer, off to a hot start. He’s joined in the starting lineup by Pritchard (8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists), New Mexico grad transfer Elijah Brown (8.0 points, 4.0 assists), a two-time All-Mountain West pick and the son of former Lakers and Cavs coach Mike Brown, forward MiKyle McIntosh (7.5 points), a grad transfer from Illinois State, and 6-10 senior Roman Sorkin (11.5 points), who had a career-high 23 points in a season-opening 70-54 win over Coppin State.
1. Oregon’s 44-game home winning streak is the longest active streak in the nation.
2. The Ducks are 128-14 under Altman when holding opponents under 70 points, including 96-6 in the last five seasons.
3. Oregon is 53-2 (96.4 percent) all-time in nonconference games at Matthew Knight Arena.
PREDICTION: Oregon 95, Alabama State 62