No. 13 Oregon scored the first bucket against BYU on Saturday night, taking a 2-0 at Matthew Knight Arena.
Their next lead?
96-94 in overtime.
In between that time, the Cougars more or less controlled the game, riding Tyler Haws’ hot-hand to a lead that grew to double-digits in the second half. It looked like BYU was going to buck the trend of late. They were going to get a big win on the road. They were going to have a statement victory on their non-conference resume. They were going to have a good chance at earning an at-large bid.
Instead, BYU was lucky to get to overtime, as Elgin Cook missed two free throws with 1.8 seconds left that kept the game tied at 84. Matt Carlino missed a three that would have tied the game with 20 seconds left and Mike Moser hit two free throws at the other end. The Ducks would win 100-96.
Jason Calliste led the way with 31 points while Joseph Young chipped in 25. Mike Moser hit a handful of big shots down the stretch, while Ben Carter and Dominic Artis once again played roles off the bench, combining to go scoreless.
Needless to say, this is a very deep, very talented Oregon team. They have some kinks on the defensive end to work out, but I don’t think it’s crazy to think that the Ducks could challenge Arizona in the Pac-12.
The bigger question is the Cougars.
They won at Stanford, beat Texas and knocked off Utah State. Good wins, but all three of those teams could end up in the NIT as the Cougars head into WCC play having lost three of their last four games and five of their last nine.
There is no question that the Cougars are one of the most entertaining teams in the country.
They’re good enough to get people to watch. But are they good enough to get the wins needed to end up on the right side of the bubble?
With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.
Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.
“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”
Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.
Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.
“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.
“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”
Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group. Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.
As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.