Oregon dominates Washington State 95-72
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Oregon welcomed former coach Ernie Kent to Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday by treating him to something better suited for nearby Hayward Field.
When it was over, Joseph Young had dropped close to a triple-double on Kent's Washington State team with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as the Ducks raced away to a 95-72 victory.
Kent, who coached his alma mater to five NCAA Tournaments and two Elite Eights during 13 seasons toiling in old McArthur Court, had barely settled onto his sideline stool before Oregon had his Cougars down by double-digits.
''They got off to a great start and it became a track meet,'' the first-year WSU coach said.
''I felt like they were running a 100-yard dash and we were running a mile, and those two just don't match up together.''
Dwayne Benjamin added 25 points for the Ducks (17-7, 7-4 Pac-12), who built a 52-28 halftime lead on the way to their fifth win in six games.
Benjamin finished 10 of 11 from the field and was perfect on three 3-point attempts. He started in place of leading rebounder Jordan Bell, who served his one-game suspension due to an incident that took place on campus earlier this week.
Dexter Kernick-Drew led the Cougars (10-13, 4-7) with 18 points off the bench. Josh Hawkinson added 14 and DaVonte Lacy had 13.
Oregon's lead ballooned to a high of 32 on the strength of 11 points by Benjamin in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second half. It was Benjamin's first start since the conference-opening win against Oregon State and just his 10th of the season.
''I was really happy for him tonight,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman said. ''He filled in well. He earned more minutes with that performance and he has been earning them in practice.''
The victory avenged the Ducks' 108-99 overtime loss to Washington State in Pullman last month.
It also ruined the homecoming for Kent, who had worked as a television analyst since Oregon's new arena opened in 2011, but was coaching there for the first time since being fired by Oregon in 2010.
''There was a lot of stuff that was written about how I'd never coach in this building,'' he said. ''Little did I know, I'd be coaching at the other end.''
''It was nice to come back here.''
Young made three of Oregon's 11 3-pointers, but he also had four three-point plays the old-fashioned way - and a soaring dunk for good measure.
The Pac-12's second-leading scorer just missed his fourth 30-point game of the season, coming off a 32-point effort in a win against Washington that made him the fifth active NCAA Division I player with more than 2,000 career points.
The Cougars already trailed 12-0 before Jordan Railey flipped in a reverse layup off a teammate's airball for their first points. When Young's 3-point play made it 20-4 with less than seven minutes gone, all five Oregon starters had scored.
Another 3-point play by Young, after drawing Lacy's third foul, put the Ducks up 31-7 and gave Washington State a new goal of just trying to keep pace with the Oregon senior.
When Young went to the bench after his third three-point play, he was up by four points on the Cougars, and the Ducks had their largest lead of the half at 38-10 with 5:47 left.
Washington State: Davonte Lacy's 13 points gave him 1,412 for his career to pass Brian Quinnett for 10th on the Cougars' all-time scoring list. Lacy also had three 3-pointers and is now third on WSU's career list with 233. He needs nine more to catch NBA All-Star Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors for the school record.
Oregon: Coach Dana Altman suspended Bell for Sunday's game after he was cited for harassment for interfering with a campus parking officer who was attempting to place a parking citation on Bell's vehicle last week. ''I have already apologized personally to the parking officer and want to also make a public apology,'' the 6-foot-9 freshman from Long Beach, California, said in a pregame statement released by the Oregon athletic department. Bell is expected back for Wednesday's game at USC.
CHANGE FOR THE BETTER
Kernich-Drew, one of three Cougars playing for Kent for the first time as seniors, had a season-high with his 18 points but came away disappointed not having made his coach's return triumphant. ''He wanted us to come out and play hard, which didn't happen,'' Kernich-Drew said. ''You want to do well for your coach, especially with the way he's changed the program and how he's made things a lot better for us, and obviously we let him down in this game, but we've got to fight for the next one.''
HUNGRY FOR MORE
With the win, Oregon assured itself of a fifth straight winning season - something the Ducks haven't accomplished since the ''Kamikaze Kids'' era of the 1970s when Kent was playing there. Oregon also shares third place in the Pac-12 with Oregon State and Stanford, behind co-leaders Arizona and Utah, with seven games remaining. ''I hope (the players) aren't satisfied with just the winning season,'' said Altman, the only coach to take Oregon to NCAA Tournament wins in back-to-back seasons. ''Our goal is to be playing in March. Our hope is to be a consistent program.''
Washington State hosts Arizona State on Friday night.
Oregon plays at USC on Wednesday night.