North Dakota-Oregon Preview

The Associated Press

Despite winning every game, Oregon isn't happy with how each of them has started.

A day after rallying from a 12-point deficit, the No. 14 Ducks take their perfect record into Saturday's home game against North Dakota in the Hardwood Challenge.

The Ducks (5-0) never led in the first half Friday against Pacific, going into halftime trailing 36-29. They rallied in a big way, scoring 20 straight points to open the second half, and wound up easily winning 85-62.

"Once we got some stops and we got some baskets I thought our press got them on their heels a little bit and I thought that was a big change," coach Dana Altman said. "For the most part, the defense initiated our offense and one we got some shots down our energy level went way up and defensively we were just a lot better."

Oregon has been a much better team after halftime all season. The Ducks outscore opponents by an average of 1.6 points during the first 20 minutes, compared to 16.0 in the second half.

Against Pacific, the Ducks shot 78.3 percent during the game's final 20 minutes.

The slow starts haven't been costly yet, but it's clearly an area of concern.

"We need to start the game like we started the second half," said guard Damyean Dotson, who had 13 points. "When we start out well it is because we had good warm-ups. If we all talk and communicate from the start then we will have a great season."

While Mike Moser led the Ducks with 19 points, Johnathan Lloyd handed out a career-high 13 assists.

Lloyd, who had a season-low four points and only one field-goal attempt, is averaging 6.8 assists and just 1.6 turnovers. A part-time starter his first three seasons, the senior is now in complete control of the team, and someone the Ducks look to for leadership.

"It is a challenge," Lloyd said. "We have some characters on our team, but we are all coming together. We are going to do it. I know what (Altman) wants and what he expects and I am just trying to pass that on to the new guys."

Joseph Young is one of the new guys who has made a big difference already this season. The transfer from Houston leads the Ducks in scoring at 21.2 points per game, and doing it by not only sinking 3-pointers but attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. Young is 10 of 25 from beyond the arc and 34 of 39 on free throws, a presence which has allowed the Ducks to spread the floor and become more of a balanced offensive team.

Six Oregon players average at least 9.0 points.

"These guys will learn to play together more, and that's part of growing as a team," Altman said. "But we have good guys they all want to play together, they all want to be coached and I'd be really disappointed if this team doesn't make big strides."

Oregon has never played North Dakota (3-1), which already faced a ranked team this season and lost 103-85 at then-No. 12 Wisconsin on Nov. 20.

North Dakota followed that defeat with a win over North Dakota State before opening this three-game, round-robin event with a 70-43 loss to Cal Poly on Friday.

Senior Troy Huff was held to six points after averaging 29.0 in the first three games.

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