Oregon continues its Mountain West Conference two-step to start off the men's basketball season.
The Ducks follow up a 71-57 opening win over Fresno State by hosting Boise State at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“That was a good start for us because we had to compete,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Boise was picked ahead of Fresno so we’ll have a better game Saturday.”
The Broncos were picked to finish fifth in a Mountain West preseason media poll while the Bulldogs were sixth.
Boise State’s projection in conference play may have been based on the addition of ex-Duck Abu Kigab, but he won’t be able to play against his former team. The 6-foot-6 Kigab, who played in 45 games during the past two seasons for the Ducks before transferring to BSU in January, is not eligible to play until winter term.
Oregon has two transfers from the Mountain West Conference, including guard Anthony Mathis, who averaged 12 points in three games against Boise State during the past two seasons at New Mexico. Forward Shakur Juiston averaged 21 points and seven rebounds for UNLV in two games against the Broncos in the 2017-18 season before missing both meetings between the teams last year due to injury.
The Broncos return four senior starters from last year when Oregon defeated them twice in nonconference play. The Ducks won 66-54 in Eugene and defeated the Broncos 62-50 in Boise two weeks later.
Six-foot-four guard Alex Hobbs scored 27 points in two games against the Ducks while 6-1 guard Marcus Dickinson added 16. Justinian Jessup and RJ Williams also return for the Broncos while 6-9 junior Derrick Alston joined the starting lineup after playing in a reserve role last year when Boise State finished 13-20.
Boise State opened the season with a 126-49 win over Life Pacific, an NAIA school in San Dimas, Calif.
The Ducks scheduled a more difficult opener against Fresno State and fell behind by four points in the first half before taking a 38-27 lead at halftime.
“A lot of what I expected,” Altman said. “I was really pleased with the effort on the boards against a big, physical team. I thought guys focused on that really well. Turnovers obviously led to 11 points for them in the first half and 18 in the game. Usually we win that battle when we play well, but we had guys going behind their back and turning the ball over for layups.”
Payton Pritchard had 24 points, seven assists and seven rebounds while junior-college transfer Chris Duarte added 16 points and seven rebounds in his debut. Sophomore Francis Okoro matched his career highs with 10 points and 10 rebounds as Oregon had a 45-31 advantage in rebounds.
“I think we played good,” Okoro said. “When we paid more attention on defense, we played good. We finally figured it out a bit. We are still missing some stuff, guys still need to understand position and I need to get better.”