November 21, 2015

Coach Dana Altman might be more impressed with his Oregon's next opponent than he is with his own team.

Altman expects the No. 25 Ducks to give a more complete effort than their last while trying to prevent undefeated Valparaiso from achieving its best start in 49 years Sunday in Eugene.

Though Oregon (3-0) is off to its own solid start that's included a seven-point win over No. 20 Baylor on Monday, Altman is hardly satisfied. He's certainly concerned with how his group will handle Valpo, which returns all but one contributor from last season's 28-6 NCAA Tournament team, added 6-foot-7 LSU transfer Shane Hammink to the mix and is trying to begin 6-0 for the first time since 1966.

"They're a good basketball team, maybe a better basketball team than we are because they play so well," Altman said. "When it's all said and done, they're going to win 30 games and they're going to be a good team, and you just hope that one of the 30 is not us."

While Altman might be resorting to coachspeak to motivate his squad, he wants the Ducks to exude more consistent energy than was displayed in Friday's 77-59 win over Savannah State. Oregon shot 51.7 percent and committed only eight turnovers, but went 11 of 24 from the free-throw line and allowed a 22-point lead to be cut to 11.

"It was a lack of focus," Altman said. "And it's obvious from that performance that if we don't play really hard and really focused, our talent level is not good enough to carry us very far."

Averaging team highs of 14.0 points and 6.7 rebounds, 6-10 senior Chris Bucher has done the job inside, but Oregon has gone 10 of 42 from 3-point range in the last two games.

"We try to get our guys to understand you have to bring it every night," said Altman, whose team has won 10 in a row at home.

He believes that needs to be the case against the Crusaders, who have dropped 38 straight against ranked opponents since current coach Bryce Drew hit the dramatic winner in their 70-69 upset of Mississippi in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

Drew and brother Scott, who coaches Baylor, shared some advanced scouting of the Ducks.

"I've already talked to him several times about it," Bryce Drew said. "Things that he liked, things they've done differently. Oregon is extremely talented."

The Crusaders won their first road game while also passing their only true test with a 58-55 win at Rhode Island on Tuesday in the first of three games in three days - the other two were against NAIA schools. Valpo's five games came over a seven-day stretch.

"We know that they're a really good team," Oregon guard Dillon Brooks said. "They run their plays well, and they're an experienced team with a lot of older guys. We just have to come and get ready for a fight and for a real good game."

Forward Alec Peters averages a team-leading 15.6 points for Valpo, which is shooting 47.6 percent and holding opponents to 32.4.

"We're going (to Oregon) focused and ready to go and try to get a win against a very good team," Valpo forward Vashil Fernandez said. "We're just excited for this opportunity to play a Top 25 team that we know is really good. "

This is the first meeting between the schools.

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