Payton Pritchard shook off a rough night by hitting two massive threes in the final five minutes as No. 14 Oregon held off No. 13 Memphis, 82-74, on Tuesday night in the Moda Center.
Pritchard finished with 14 points and six assists, scoring 10 of the 14 down the stretch. He shot just 4-for-11 from the floor and turned the ball over six times, but he made the plays when it mattered.
Here are three things that we can take away from that game:
1. JAMES WISEMAN NEVER GOT INTO THE GAME
In his first game against high major competition, James Wiseman never really seemed to get out of first gear.
He picked up two fouls before the first TV timeout, meaning that he spent the next 16 minutes riding the pine. It wasn’t until the final eight minutes of the game that he really started showing the things that he is capable of doing. He finished with 14 points and 12 boards, adding a turnaround jumper to a couple of tip-dunks, but for the most part he ineffective.
Part of the reason for that is the defense that Oregon plays. They sit in a matchup zone that is somewhere between a normal 2-3 and a switching man-to-man defense, and they were able to park extra bodies in the paint because the Tigers were unable to shoot them out of it. There was one possession where Memphis was able to get him into a ball-screen action with enough going on on the opposite side of the floor where there was some space for him to work, but that’s it.
For the most part, Wiseman spent his time in Portland looking frustrated and ineffective, and he still finished with a double-double.
That should tell you quite a bit about his potential.
It also helps drive home some of the question marks that surround his motor.
2. OREGON’S GRAD TRANSFERS CAME UP BIG
It should not really come as a surprise to anyone at this point, but Dana Altman is finding success by tapping into the grad transfer market. Anthony Mathis scored 12 points and hit four threes while Shakur Juiston added 17 points, 10 boards, three assists and two blocks to the cause.
And Oregon needed those points. Pritchard struggled with the length and athleticism of Memphis for the first 32 minutes, but the Ducks were in control for the majority of the game in large part due to the play of their senior one-and-dones.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Oregon bench as well.
Starting guard Chris Duarte bruised his knee late in the first half, and that forced Addison Patterson and Will Richardson into big minutes in the second half. Richardson finished with 10 points and six assists, including a huge three in the final minutes, while Patterson scored all seven of his points during one three-minute second half stretch that saw the Ducks open up their first double-digit lead.
3. JAMES WISEMAN’S ELIGIBILITY IS GOING TO BE THIS YEAR’S ZION WILLIAMSON
Every season, there is a talking point that gets shoved down the throat of anyone that watches college basketball on a nightly basis, and this year it looks like it is going to be Wiseman’s eligibility.
It was discussed ad nauseum during Tuesday night’s broadcast, there were graphics that popped up explaining that he has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA and Jay Bilas and Dan Shulman talked through the particulars of the case multiple times. It was mentioned at halftime. It was the centerpiece of what was discussed postgame.
And rightfully so!
Wiseman might be the best player in the country. He is a potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. He is the star attraction on a Memphis team that ranks in the top 15, has Penny Hardaway as their coach and is the college hoops team that had all the buzz in the offseason. Oh, and should I mention that he is in the middle of an absolutely unprecedented battle with the NCAA over his right to play this season?
He should be the thing that gets talked about more than anything else this season.
It’s not wrong.
Just prepare yourself for this to happen.