The Ducks Basketball team delivered an incredible 68-62 wins against the USC Trojans on Thursday night. A historic win for the Oregon because it was the first game held at the brand spanking new Matthew Knight Arena. Phil Knight, the co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc, named it after his son Matt who died in a scuba diving accident back in 2004.
There 12,500 seat arena (which will also be a venue for top name musicians such as Elton John) was filled to capacity amidst all of the fan fare that went along with it’s grand opening.
The old Mac Court AKA, “The Pit” donned one of the coolest courts I have ever seen, better than some NBA courts. It’s theme is called “Deep in the Woods” and the court is embellished with what I thought was a giant duck dropping, however upon looking at it further it reveals a silhouette of fir trees or “Tall Firs” in honor of the 1939 NCAA champions. You have to sit in the upper sections to get the overall visual.
There was much excitement over opening performances and The Spangled Banner sung by UO and Sing Off finalists, On The Rocks, topped it of.
With the start of the game, Coach Dana Altman said that his team practiced on the new court this week and came out with a bang when Junior Guard Garrett Sims landed the first historic 2-point basket.
After that there was not much action on either side of the court and nearly eight minutes into the game, the two teams had combined to shoot for 21 from the field.
Then, Junior forward Tyrone Nared who has been working on his outside shot and extending his range this season managed to dunk a 3 pointer along with Sims who locked down another 3 pointer from the corner with 12 minutes to go in the second half.
USC’s 6 foot 10 Junior Forward Nikola Vucevic and the Trojans struggled against the Duck’s 2-3 zone defense and quickly fell behind, 17-9, with a little under 10:00 minutes left.
Soon after Junior Guard Malcolm Armstead who was considered a coveted player on the junior college circuit took it right down the middle for a 2 pointer then Junior Guard Teondre Williams repeated with another 2 points.
Trojans Senior Guard Donte Smith kept his team close behind by scoring Eight of USC’s next 12 points, tying the score at 21-21 with a 3 point dunk with less than 3 minutes left.
But the Ducks kept the pressure on SC when Nared slammed back Sim’s missed layup at the buzzer to give the Ducks a six-point lead going into the locker room.
The second half was filled with some Trojans turnovers and 2 and 3 pointers shot by Duck’s Freshman’s Guard Jonathon Loyd and Williams, who shot a 3 pointer that moved Oregon over USC by six points.
At one point USC was trailing Oregon by 20 points then Vucevic got tangled up with Sophomore Forward E.J. Singler, there were some words exchanged and officials decided to waste about 7 minutes of the game deciding who to place a foul on. That time lapse really slowed the momentum of the Ducks and put SC back in the game.
But in the end, the Ducks came out the winners 68-62, due the numerous fouls that the Trojans continued to make.
All in all, the Ducks shot better than 40 percent from the field from the first time in six games, at 43 percent. Coach Altman praised the team by saying, “we made some big plays and some big stops plus it really helped to have all of the great energy here tonight from the fans”.
Not all was a go at the new arena, apparently the scoreboard malfunctioned during the game and fans were not able to keep track of the score, a glitch that is to be expected in a new venue.
Side Note: Football coach Chip Kelly was also in attendance and expressed that he was proud of his team, that they played a great game against Auburn and is looking forward to both LaMichael James and Darron Thomas coming back for the 2011 season.
Topics: Chip Kelly, Dana Altman, Duck Basketball, E.J. Singler, Garrett Sims, Jonathan Loyd, Mac Court, Malcolm Armstead, Matt Court, Matthew Knight Arena, Nikola Vucevic, Oregon Ducks, Phil Knight, Teoandre Williams, Tyrone Nared, USC Trojans