Oregon Basketball: What to Watch for Against Houston

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 23: Payton Pritchard
KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 23: Payton Pritchard /

After a mid-week failure against Texas Southern, Oregon Basketball will be tested on the road for the first time this season against a solid Houston squad.

Look, tonight is nearly a must-win. With two losses already on the record (and one coming against terrible Texas Southern), Oregon Basketball must avoid further self-damage and find a way to scrape by the Houston Cougars with a win. For that to happen (fingers crossed), a few different things must occur.

1. Bol Bol’s continued superstardom

Tomorrow, I’m publishing an entire piece on Bol and his astounding play so far this year, so I’ll save a lot of my thoughts for that. However, the 7-2, apparent Curry-level shooting center has been by far the Duck’s best player this season. Averaging 21 points a game on above 50% shooting from both the field and behind the arc, Bol is one of the most difficult matchups in the country. That needs to continue this evening. And it should.

Houston has been solid so far this year, but of the 8 players who get the most minutes, zero are taller than 6’9. Here’s some math: 7’2 is FIVE inches taller than 6’9. Bol, with his lanky post play and fadeaway jumpers, should have no issue getting his shot off. I’m expecting a giant night from Bol and Altman sure will need one to come home from the Longhorn state with a victory.

2. A defensive lineup that works

Tuesday, our defense was atrocious. 89 points allowed to Texas Southern is unacceptable. Now, with Wooten (the best defender on the team) back in the lineup, efforts on that end should be improved. The problem right now is that most of our role players are freshmen who simply don’t have the experience/IQ necessary to be effective defensively. God love Abu and Francis but man they get lost ALL the time. In super important games like the one tonight, perhaps Altman should tighten the rotation. This Cougars team may lack size, but they have a host of talented perimeter scorers that can beat guys off the dribble. That’s been an Oregon weakness so far. Who has been solid guarding off the dribble? Pritchard, Amin, and Richardson. Play them with Wooten and Bol and the defensive will get stops. Offensively it’s not bad either.

3. Remain calm

This is the first true road game of the season. And since it’s routine for media members like myself to hammer this point home, I’m going to do it. When your team relies heavily on true freshmen, the first road test is always tough, no matter who you play. Hell, we watched Marvin Bagley Wendell Carter freeze against Boston College last year…and BC sucks! I have no clue how Bol, Okoro, and Richardson will react, but we need all 3 to chip in (especially Bol).