Oregon defeats Toledo
EUGENE — For all of Oregon’s emphasis on defense, it was a moment of irresistible offensive force that helped propel the Ducks to the 100th victory of the Dana Altman coaching era.
Midway through the second half, Elgin Cook grabbed one his 12 rebounds, dribbled the length of the floor through the scrambling Toledo defense and threw down a thunderous dunk for Oregon’s first double-digit lead in a 78-68 win over the Rockets on Friday night.
“That was nasty,” said Joseph Young, who led the Ducks (3-0) with 24 points. “That’s all I’ve got to say about that. Down the middle, he got the crowd going and that picked up our defense right there, too.”
Oregon handed the Rockets (1-2) their second consecutive loss in large part because of its 20-7 advantage at the foul line. Young, who was 7-for-13 from the field, made all seven of his free throws.
“Everybody’s leading,” Young said. “It’s like we’re a family and we’re just getting better, and I just can’t wait to get to practice and get better from there.”
Cook had one double-double for Oregon with 13 points to go with his 12 rebounds, and Dwayne Benjamin added another with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Dillon Brooks also had 10 points for the Ducks.
Julius Brown led Toledo (1-2) with 19 points. J.D. Weatherspoon added 14 points and Jonathan Williams had 13.
“I thought we played really hard,” said Altman, who is 100-47 in his fifth season in Eugene. “We took some bad shots, which held our offensive production down, but I cannot fault our effort.
“Today was a big hurdle, a big test for us, and there’s absolutely no doubt about that.”
The Ducks pushed a 36-34 halftime lead to 10 points on four occasions — three times on dunks through the heart of the Rocket defense — and led by 12 on Cook’s driving layup with 1:03 left.
Oregon finished with a 46-36 edge in rebounds and blocked seven Toledo shots.
The Rockets’ leading scorer in their first two games, center Nathan Boothe, had the game’s first two points and wasn’t heard from again before fouling out with 7:16 left to play. Boothe and his backup, Zach Garber, combined for just four points and seven rebounds before both fouled out.
“They got (Boothe) in foul trouble, took him out of his rhythm and we could never get him going tonight,” Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “It’s huge. When he’s in the game and when he’s touching the ball, we’re good, and with his lack of production tonight, that really hurt us.
“For him to get two points in 14 minutes, we can’t survive with that.”
With Boothe stifled, Brown ignited the Rockets’ offense in the first half with four 3-pointers and 14 points. The Ducks countered with Young, who had 13 points and shook loose twice for 3s in the final minute of the half for Oregon.
His second 3 with 10 seconds before the half was the game’s ninth and final lead change.
NO DODGING THE ROCKETS
Altman said Oregon ended up playing Toledo as part of the Legends Classic because no other team wanted to face the Rockets, and the victory will pay dividends down the road. “They had a power ranking of 38 last year and they’re going to be just as good this year,” he said. This is going to be a big win for us when we look back.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Toledo is coming off a school-record 27-7 season and now heads home for two games looking to climb back over .500. “I thought we played poorly,” Kowalczyk said. “We’re a much better team than we played like tonight. We’ll learn from it and we’ll get better.”
Toledo: The Rockets, the preseason Mid-American Conference favorites, were playing their first Pac-12 opponent in 30 years and their first game in the Pacific time zone in more than 10 seasons.
Oregon: Altman, only the second Oregon coach to post four consecutive 20-win seasons, improved to 61-11 at Matthew Knight Arena, which opened during his first season in Eugene. . Young, who led the Pac-12 in free-throw accuracy last season at 88.1 percent (155 of 176), has made his first 18 attempts through three games.
Toledo hosts Bucknell on Monday night.
Oregon plays Michigan on Monday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.