One of the biggest concerns facing Oregon this season is replacing the scoring that Aaron Brooks provided. If the first game of the season was any indication, they may not have any need to worry.
The 12th-ranked Ducks look for another impressive performance Sunday night when they host Pacific.
Oregon had no trouble with Pepperdine in its opening game of the World Vision Invitational on Saturday, coasting to a 100-70 victory.
Tajuan Porter had 17 points and a career-high nine assists while Malik Hairston and Bryce Taylor also contributed 17 points, helping the Ducks win their 16th straight season opener.
Oregon played its first game in four seasons without Brooks, the scoring and assist leader on last season’s team that reached the NCAA tournament regional finals.
Expected to carry the bulk of the offensive load in Brooks’ absence is Porter, who was second on the team last season, averaging 14.6 points as a freshman.
Porter, the smallest player in the Pac-10 at 5-foot-6, led the conference in free-throw percentage (90.9) and 3-pointers per game (3.1).
“My role has changed a little bit from last year,” Porter said. “Last year I had Aaron Brooks. Now, this year I have to score and share the ball.”
Oregon shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and made 6-of-9 shots from beyond the arc. The Ducks finished the game shooting 52 percent, and outrebounded the Waves 58-40.
“It was a good start to the season, our players are starting to get in a groove,” Ducks coach Ernie Kent said. “The biggest thing for us is to play.”
While replacing Brooks’ leadership may be more difficult, Oregon shouldn’t experience much of a drop-off offensively this season. The Ducks return four starters—all of whom averaged double figures—and six of their top seven players are back.
Saturday’s victory improved Oregon to 77-19 at McArthur Court since the start of the 2001-02 season.
The Ducks have started 2-0 or better every season since 1997-98, when they lost three of their first four games. They close this tournament Monday night against Western Michigan.
Pacific also opened its season Saturday at McArthur Court, beating Western Michigan 90-76.
Chad Troyer scored 21 points and Steffan Johnson and Michael Kirby added 16 apiece for the Tigers, who shot a sizzling 64.3 percent (27-for-42) from the field, including 9-of-13 from 3-point range.
The Tigers lost five players from last season’s 12-19 team but return top scorers Anthony Brown and Johnson. Brown, though, missed his only shot and finished with one point in 30 minutes Saturday.
Oregon has won five of seven meetings against Pacific, including an 84-62 victory on Nov. 22, 2005.