Oregon’s struggles continue in loss at Oregon State

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Having lost three straight Pac-12 games after squeaking past Utah in their league opener, the Oregon Ducks needed to get back on track against rival Oregon State on Sunday night. Struggling defensively, the general assumption regarding Dana Altman’s team is that if they could improve on that end of the floor they’d have enough offensive firepower to ensure a turnaround.

Unfortunately for Oregon they struggled offensively, shooting 38% from the field and 4-for-19 from beyond the arc in Corvallis. The end result: an 80-72 loss to their in-state rival, falling to 1-4 in Pac-12 play as a result. Oregon State did shoot 7-for-13 from three and 27-for-31 from the foul line, but they also turned the ball over 20 times and as a result provided Oregon with multiple opportunities to grab control of the contest.

Oregon was unable to take advantage of those chances, and the production of their starters factored into that. The starting five shot just 7-for-35 from the field, with Mike Moser shooting 3-for-15. Some credit, especially when it came to Oregon’s finishing at the basket, should be given to an Oregon State defense that blocked nine shots. However this was more about Oregon, and their struggles resulted in a 16-point hole with just over eight minutes remaining in the half.

The Oregon bench scored 47 points with Jason Calliste (17 points) and Richard Amardi (13 points, six rebounds) providing some much-needed energy, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Oregon’s struggled defensively in Pac-12 play but Sunday night was more about the offense, with three-point shooting, production from the starters and a poor assist count being the biggest issues. Just six of Oregon’s 25 made field goals were assists; by comparison Oregon State assisted on 19 of its 23 made field goals. Given the number of capable scorers in Oregon’s rotation that shouldn’t happen.

Oregon State picked up a valuable win, with Roberto Nelson scoring 22 points and Eric Moreland (15 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks) filling the stat sheet. Craig Robinson’s team certainly deserves credit for the result, but this is a concerning defeat for Oregon on two fronts.

There’s the obvious “quality of play” issue for Oregon, but they’ve also got a resume that doesn’t look as good as it did a month ago. Those wins over Georgetown and Illinois have lost their luster, meaning that the Ducks’ best wins came against BYU and Ole Miss. With a number of teams sporting meager resumes at this point in time, this won’t be a killer if Oregon can get its act together.

But can they get their act together? At this point that’s anyone’s guess.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.