The Oregon Ducks continue to play suffocating defense, and they held down the Nebraska Cornhuskers to just 38 points in a 60-38 victory that puts the Ducks up to 9-1 on the season. Despite the 22-point blowout victory, head coach Dana Altman was not impressed with the team’s offensive performance as a whole, ““We took some bad threes early and then finally hit one late there. Freshmen are going to struggle and you’d expect your vets to be a little better. But we haven’t shot it well this year. A lot of it is shot selection which needs to continue to improve. We are a better shooting team than we showed.”
Altman is being too tough on the team here, but he does have a point. The Ducks took 13 three-pointers in this game, and they only connected on two of them with both makes coming from star E.J. Singler (2-3). His knock on the freshmen struggling is likely directed at Dominic Artis’s 0-4 line from downtown, and he shot just 30.8% from the floor with four turnovers.
Nebraska was even worse, as they shot 30.6% from the floor as a team and chucked up plenty of bricks from deep territory as well. Ray Gallegos played in all 40 minutes and finished with a 1-8 line from three, which is absolutely atrocious.
The Ducks received their best performance from Tony Woods, who continues his strong season after posting a 7-11 line on the Huskers to go with a pair of blocks. Altman heaped plenty of praise on both Woods and Arsalan Kazemi, who continues to be a monster down low. He’s been the best rebounder in the conference and had a whopping 17 boards in this game to go with four steals (!) and ten points on just four shots.
Kazemi has been the best player in the Pac-12 in my opinion, because his 31.1 PER leads the league as does his total rebounding percentage. The Iranian has the league’s best defensive rating, the best steal percentage, and the second best offensive rating. Kazemi simply does it all, and Oregon is lucky to have him after he transferred from the Rice Owls. He has been a revelation for the Ducks, just as Devoe Joseph was last season. Except now, the Ducks get their man for the full season instead of just conference play.
The Ducks need to play more efficiently on offense because that type of play isn’t going to work against better teams. I mean, not everybody the Ducks face is going to shoot 30% from the floor like Nebraska did. It was a great win for the defense and “a win is a win”, but at the same time Altman needs to keep the guys focused and look at the bigger picture with regards to offensive efficiency.
Oregon has a top 20 defense this season, but their offensive rating is hovering at around 60th. That needs to improve a bit more if this team is to reach their full potential, especially since they have had an incredibly easy schedule to this point. The Ducks have been playing like a top 25 team this season, but that’s mainly because they have been beating up on easy competition. I love where this team is headed and would strongly consider ranking them in the top 25, but there is still some work that needs to be done.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.