Like clockwork, the new year rolls in and a Dana Altman coached team goes from a struggling unit with little to no chemistry to a machine destined for the NCAA Tournament. After statement road wins against two top five teams (at the time) in UCLA and USC — where Altman would pick up his 700th and 701st wins as a head coach — the Ducks would come home to face off against none other than their mainstay rival in the Washington Huskies at Matthew Knight Arena.
Any evidence of rust from the week-long break was gone within minutes as consecutive baskets from De’Vion Harmon and Jacob Young would set the tone early, but it was the other member of the starting guard trio who really dominated the first half. Will Richardson began the night six points shy of 1,000 career points and reached that milestone within six minutes.
Coming off a career-high 28 points against USC, Richardson finished the half as the leading scorer, rebounder, and tied with Young for the assists lead. He single-handedly matched the Huskies’ first-half scoring output with 13 points on 5-6 shooting (3-4 from three), en route to the Ducks leading the Huskies by 35 at the break.
Somehow, someway, Justin Herbert absolutely brutalizing a UO student at the Rec Center wasn’t the worst beating on a basketball court this week.
While the first half saw Oregon come out with a ferocity on both ends that hadn’t been seen before this season, the second half saw a rapid cool down as the Huskies would match the Ducks blow for blow offensively.
The Huskies more than tripled their point total in the second half, scoring 43 points as Terrell Brown Jr. and Emmitt Matthews Jr. combined for 22 points in the half, but alas, the much-improved offensive production would amount to nothing, as the Ducks walked away with a comfortable 28-point margin of victory.
As the game wore on, and the Ducks comfortable lead was maintained, Altman slowly worked in role players that hadn’t seen a ton of play this season. Nathan Bittle, Isaac Johnson, Gabe Reichle, Lök Wur, and walk-on Brady Parris all saw the floor for extended minutes toward the end of regulation.
Bittle was the only one to have a noteworthy performance in his limited minutes, as he finished the night with four points, three rebounds, two steals, a block, and three fouls in only seven minutes of play.
The Ducks put in a defensive showcase tonight, limiting the Huskies to 17 made shots on 55 attempts, and creating an additional 23 turnovers that would lead to 25 points.
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Will Richardson was named the most valuable player of the night, checking out of the game after playing 31 minutes, totaling 21 points, four assists, three rebounds, and a pair of steals.
Earlier this week, Altman touched on how Richardson had grown into his role as the de facto leader on and off the court in recent weeks, and nights like tonight cement that sentiment. Richardson’s continued excellent play in 2022 will be instrumental for the Ducks on their path to the Pac-12 Tournament and a potential March Madness berth if this run of form can last for the next two months.
The Ducks (12-6, 5-2 Pac-12) look to Tuesday night where they’ll face the Colorado Buffaloes (12-6, 4-4 Pac-12) at home in hopes of continuing their winning streak.
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