Not a trip to remember for freshmen
Oregon’s freshman class followed up its best Pac-12 weekend with its worst.
The four true freshmen combined for 19 points in 135 minutes while the Ducks were swept in Los Angeles. Troy Brown, Kenny Wooten, Victor Bailey and Abu Kigab totaled 75 points during the previous week in wins over Washington and Washington State.
Brown provided 15 of the 19 points from the freshmen in losses at USC and UCLA while making 7-of-23 shots, including 1-of-8 three-pointers. He led the Ducks with 15 rebounds and 10 assists during the weekend.
“Troy had some good looks at three-pointers, but just didn’t have his best shooting night,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said after Brown went 2-for-11 and missed all four three-pointers in Saturday’s 86-78 loss at UCLA. “I love the seven assists and eight rebounds, but it was just one game he didn’t shoot it very well.”
Brown, who averages 11.9 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds, was a five-star recruit who is considered a possible first-round pick if he enters the NBA Draft following this season. Altman was asked if Brown might be feeling more pressure as the decision on his future draws closer.
“We talk and try to keep the pressure off and tell him just to worry about playing your game, don’t worry about that,” Altman said.
Wooten, who totaled 22 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in the sweep of Washington and Washington State, was scoreless against the Trojans and Bruins with 10 rebounds while going without a block in back-to-back games for the first time all season.
Senior MiKyle McIntosh led the Ducks in scoring during the Los Angeles trip with 42 points.
“I wasn’t doing anything different,” McIntosh said. “Troy and Kenny have played good, hitting their shots and doing stuff. They had an offgame, but it happens. I just try to be aggressive and when I saw they were not scoring, I tried to be more aggressive. Our team as a whole is a great team, so we can take care of each other.”
Bailey, who averages 7.3 points per game, had two points in the 72-70 loss at USC and went scoreless against UCLA while Kigab missed his only field-goal attempt and two free throws during the weekend.
Late leads lost
Sitting at 17-10 overall and 7-7 in Pac-12 play, Oregon’s chances at an NCAA Tournament at-large bid are a longshot in part because of a string of games where the Ducks lost a late lead. Oregon had a lead in the final three minutes during four of its last five losses.
Last week, Oregon led USC 68-67 with 1:30 left to play and had a 67-66 edge over UCLA with 2:10 left to play. In a 75-70 loss to USC on Jan. 18, Oregon led 68-66 with 1:50 left in the game. The Ducks had a 77-76 lead at Arizona with 2:55 remaining before losing 90-83 on Jan. 13.
It was a similar story Dec. 1 when Oregon led Boise State 68-67 with 1:01 left before losing 73-70.
The largest lead Oregon lost all season came in its Pac-12 opener when Utah trailed 21-8 before winning 66-56.
Elijah Brown and Payton Pritchard each posted a message to Oregon’s critics on Twitter after the loss to UCLA on Saturday.
Brown called out “front running tweeters who call yourself UOregon FANS come forward at any point. We don’t need ya support when the time comes.”
Pritchard wrote: “If your not with us now then don’t come running back later.”