Payton Pritchard puts team on his back, but Oregon basketball is still working with 'a lot of new parts'

Lindsey Wisniewski
NBC Sports Northwest
Not so fast...Oregon men's basketball doesn't have it completely figured out just yet.

Payton Pritchard puts team on his back, but Oregon basketball is still working with 'a lot of new parts'

Not so fast...Oregon men's basketball doesn't have it completely figured out just yet.

Payton Pritchard puts team on his back, but Oregon basketball is still working with 'a lot of new parts' originally appeared on nbcsportsnorthwest.com

When Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Jordan Bell, Chris Boucher and Casey Benson left Oregon's basketball program, head coach Dana Altman knew his team could use a leader.

In came Payton Pritchard, who spent his first two years with the experienced squad, before taking the team under his wing this season.

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While Pritchard has struggled offensively in recent games, the junior guard put the team on his back in a must-win matchup with Cal on Wednesday, proving he's just the player Altman hoped he would be.

"The ten rebounds were impressive," Altman said of Pritchard's double-double night. "They weren't easy rebounds, he went and got them, went back and mixed up and got his boards. I thought that was by far the best part of his game."

The West Linn, Ore. native recorded the second double-double of his college career, dropping 20 points on 7-14 shooting while grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds in Oregon's 73-62 victory over Cal.

But for Pritchard, it's all about getting better and helping his team win games.

"I shot it definitely a lot better today, so hopefully I can keep making strides now," Pritchard said. "I kind of just tightened up my form, not thinking as much, just playing ball. Today I was more ready to shoot when the shots were coming."

Pritchard now has 1,081 career points, 32nd in program history. This comes just one week after he became the sixth player in Oregon history with 1000 points and 400 assists.

While the weight of the team's success shouldn't be placed on Pritchard's shoulders alone, it's obvious the young Ducks still have some work to do before they host Stanford on Sunday.

Oregon turned the ball over on 11 occasions before halftime, and finished the game with 15 turnovers total on the night. Altman was crestfallen with his team's careless play.

"Hopefully, we can make a big step here in the next few weeks and continue to get better," Altman said. "I think there is a lot there, and I'm disappointed in myself that we haven't gotten it out of them and that we haven't made better progress. But we had to find a way to win today."

Pritchard is doing all he can do to help his Ducks win. But Altman's right, Oregon still has some growing pains to figure out with the halfway point of conference play upon us. 

Next up, Oregon (14-9, 5-5) welcomes the Stanford Cardinal (11-10, 4-5), who sit just one game under the Ducks in the Pac-12 standings. The two teams meet on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena. Tip off time is 5:00 p.m. 

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