Kenny Wooten leads Oregon with a .582 shooting percentage, but the 6-foot-9 sophomore takes just about four shots per game.
“He misses a couple shots and he doesn’t want the ball,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I told him none of our other guys have that problem.”
Wooten laughed at that line from his coach and then went out to change his game plan on offense by matching a career high with 20 points during Oregon’s 78-58 win over Washington State on Sunday night in front of 8,929 at Matthew Knight Arena. Wooten was 8-for-10 from the field, marking the second-most shots he has taken in a game this year.
“Coach said to be more aggressive with my offensive looks,” Wooten said. “I put time in the gym and am working on being more confident with the ball.”
Wooten also took advice from Bill Walton after he was the announcer for Oregon’s 61-56 loss to Washington on Thursday. The two talked following the game and Wooten looked up some highlights from Walton’s playing days.
“I watched a lot of the post things he told me to look up and focused on it,” Wooten said.
Wooten has come off the bench in all four games since returning from a broken jaw and scored six points in the first half as Oregon fell behind 39-35. He was 5-for-6 from the field and added four free throws in the second half as the Ducks outscored WSU 43-19.
“I thought the guys did a good job finding him,” Altman said. “He moved well under the zone and was looking for open spots. I thought his activity was pretty good.”
Freshman guard Will Richardson assisted on four of Wooten’s baskets while Payton Pritchard assisted on two of his other hoops. Richardson was back in the starting lineup and finished with six assists while Pritchard had eight.
“It started with Will and Payton combining for 14 assists and no turnovers,” UO senior guard Ehab Amin said. “That is what we have been needing. They handled the ball well and made plays for others.”
Pritchard also had six steals to tie the arena record set by Oregon’s Joe Young against USC on Feb. 1, 2014. The junior guard was 2-for-10 from the field, including 1-for-7 on 3-pointers.
“If the ball is not going in you have to be giving it somewhere so six steals, eight assists and no turnovers, Payton was contributing in that way,” Altman said.
Louis King led the Ducks with 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-6 on 3-pointers. Paul White was 7-for-11 from the field for 18 points as Oregon shot 54.5 percent from the field.
The Ducks shot 16-for-26 in the second half while making 6-of-12 3-pointers.
“Our guys did a real good job moving the ball in the second half,” Altman said. “We had 16 buckets and 13 assists in the second half and 21 assists and seven turnovers in the game. If we finished a couple layups we could have had a real good half on offense.”
Washington State was 17-for-22 from the field in the first half to take a four-point lead as Robert Franks made all six of his shots for 15 points.
“We played very poorly on defense in the first half,” Wooten said. “I can’t lie, they were hot but our bad defense did not help that.”
King opened the second half with a 3-pointer and White put the Ducks ahead 43-42 on a 3-pointer. Washington State took its last lead at 44-43 and trailed 52-50 when CJ Elleby scored with 10:40 left to play.
White and King hit back-to-back 3-pointers before Wooten dunked to put Oregon ahead 60-53. White went inside for a couple of layups and Wooten scored inside before King got a steal and fed Pritchard for a layup that gave the Ducks a 68-53 lead.
Franks had four points in the second half as the Cougars went 8-for-24 from the field.