EUGENE, Ore.,- The Ducks (11-2) beat Nevada 56-43, in a game of runs that included long scoring droughts for both teams, but Arsalan Kazemi left the game in the first half with a head injury.
Kazemi caught an elbow from Carlos Emory while the two were chasing a loose ball. He left the court on his own power, but went to the locker room and did not return for the second half.
Altman said after the game that he believes that he’ll be fine, and that he was held-out due to concussion-like symptoms.
“I didn’t have a chance to talk to him too much. But he looked OK,” Altman said.
The timing could hardly be any worse, if Kazemi is to miss any time, as Oregon begins conference play this week, opening up in Corvallis with rival Oregon State on Sunday.
The scoring rate was much lower than Oregon has been accustomed to, as the Ducks scored a season-low 25 points in the first half and held the Wolf Pack to 14 also a season-low, on just 6-31 shooting. The Ducks, who average 79.2 points per contest, finished 23 points below their average.
“I thought defensively we did some pretty good things,” Altman said. Defensive communication has been a concern all season, but Altman was pleased with Monday’s effort. “I liked our activity. For the most part our defense was pretty good.”
Nevada guards Deonte Burton and Malik Story, who both average over 16 points per game, were held to just 12 and 10 on a combined 8-for-33 shooting.
“It was pretty impressive, with two really efficient scorers,” senior E.J. Singler said. “I felt we played one of our better defensive games. We’re coming together slowly.”
The Ducks also blocked eight shots, three of them by Tony Woods.
Oregon held Nevada scoreless for nearly eight minutes that spanned both halves, during which the Ducks pushed a lead out to 19 points. But the resilient Wolf Pack didn’t quit, putting together a 16-3 run and carving the Duck lead down to six.
That run, included a four minute scoreless stretch, which was aided heavily by a high-turnover count. The Ducks finished with 19 turnovers, 12 in the first half, the number Altman had targeted for the game on Friday.
Of the Wolf Pack’s 43 points, 20 came off of those turnovers, many of which resulted in easy lay-ins.
Singler was especially susceptible to poor plays, finishing the game with seven turnovers.
“Most of that was on me,” he said. “So, I need to clean it up a lot, being a senior. I’ve got to be stronger with the ball and make better plays. I’ve got to take a lot of blame for that.”
To temper that, Altman paired point guards Dominic Artis and Johnathan Loyd together, putting the team’s two shortest players on the court at the same time.
“I was trying to cut down on turnovers. I said, ‘I’ve got to put our best ball handlers on the floor.’”
The move proved successful, as it was Loyd who assisted on two response three point shots that pushed Oregon’s lead back to double figures, the first to Emory the second to Artis.
With Kazemi out of commission, Emory saw increased time in the second half. He made the most of it, finishing with team-highs 13 points and 7 rebounds.
“When he’s really focused, he’s really good. He’s had a good week of practice, and I think that led to a good performance tonight,” Altman said.
Woods also finished with 13, and Artis was the third Duck in double figures, with 10.