New-look Oregon is off to a strong start as itprepares to close out a four-game season-opening homestand Sunday against BallState. The Ducks, who lost seven of their top 10 scorers – including a trio ofNBA Draft picks – from last season’s Final Four squad, are 3-0 so farwith an average margin of victory of 35.7 points.
In the most recent win – a 114-56 thumping ofAlabama State on Friday – coach Dana Altman notched his 600th NCAA victory.He’s the 10th active Division I coach and the 34thall-time to reach the milestone. Oregon shot 62.5 percent, placed six playersin double figures, had 29 assists and enjoyed a 46-20 rebound advantage in therout. “We’ve made a step in each game,” Altman said in his post-game newsconference. “I think our energy level was better, our execution was better anddefensively at times they were better.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT BALL STATE (1-2): The Cardinals, of theMid-American Conference, got off to an 0-2 start with losses at Dayton (78-77)and Oklahoma (108-69) but overcame an eight-point halftime deficit tocome back and beat visiting Stony Brook 87-76 on Friday night. Junior pointguard Tayler Persons scored a game-high 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting in thewin and leads four double-digit scorers on the season with 15.7 per game. KyleMallers (13.3), Jontrell Walker (12.3) and Tahjai Teague (11.0) are alsoaveraging double figures, and the latter is pacing the team with 9.0 reboundsper outing.
ABOUT OREGON (3-0): Freshman forward Kenny Wootentotaled only nine points and five rebounds in playing 31 total minutes in hisfirst two games but exploded for his first collegiate double-double Friday witha team-high 19 points and 13 rebounds while also blocking five shots. Wooten isnow averaging 9.3 points on the season, placing him only seventh behind TroyBrown (16.0), Roman Sorkin (11.5), Paul White (11.5), Victor Bailey Jr. (11.0),Elijah Brown (10.3) and the Ducks’ lone returning starter, guard PaytonPritchard (10.0). Sorkin, a 6-foot-10 forward, was held out Friday as he deals witha foot injury, and his status going forward is unknown, although Altman said heis hopeful the junior would be able to play Sunday.
1. Oregon brings a Division I-best 45-game homewin streak into the game and is 54-2 in non-conference contests played atMatthew Knight Arena.
2. Behind Wooten (6.0 boards per game), Brown(5.7) and senior F MiKyle McIntosh (5.3), the Ducks are enjoying an averagerebounding margin of plus-14.3 per game so far.
3. Ball State senior G Jeremie Tyler wassuspended indefinitely before the team’s game Wednesday at Oklahoma, and coach JamesWhitford has refused to elaborate on the details or the length of thepunishment.
PREDICTION: Oregon 94, Ball State 74