Saturday, December 14, 2019

Green's five takeaways from No. 10 Oregon's 71-70 win over No. 5 Michigan in OT

      Photo Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer- AP Photo

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

In what felt like an NCAA tournament game in mid-December, the No. 10 Oregon Ducks (8-2) rode the Payton Pritchard train to a 71-70 win over the No. 5 Michigan Wolverines (8-3, 1-1 Big Ten) in overtime. Pritchard’s performance leads off my five takeaways from Ann Arbor.

1) Pritchard’s second half barrage:

While Oregon’s perimeter game lived up to the billing, it needed a presence in the paint and Payton Pritchard served that purpose scoring 19 of a game-high 23 points in the second half and overtime.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard took some things away from Pritchard’s performance, despite throwing out various defensive schemes in an attempt to stop the senior guard.

“It is not his first rodeo. I watched Pritchard in the NCAA tournament and have always been a fan of his game,” Howard said. “He is a smart player with a high IQ and can make tough shots. Every bucket he made, he earned it.”

“Our guys like [Zavier] were playing him with great one-on-one defense and switched off him. We were disciplined on how we contested the shots, but I loved how our defensive disposition was today.”

2) Oregon’s perimeter game lived up to the billing:

Known for their precise three-point shooting as one the top teams in the Pac-12 at 40.4 percent, the Oregon Ducks lived up to the billing going 8-of-16 (50 percent), which helped them build a 16-point lead in the first half.

The main catalyst to Oregon’s early success this season fell on Payton Pritchard, but the senior took a backseat to a perimeter showcase by Anthony Mathis. Mathis drained six three-pointers on the way to 19 points in 37 minutes and Howard complemented the senior on the performance.

“Mathis shot 10 three-pointers, so he gave himself a chance and made some tough shots early on that was deep from the floor,” Howard said. “I thought our guys did a hell of a job defensively and unfortunately, they made some bombs.”

3) DeJulius to the rescue:

The Wolverines’ offense had a start to forget missing 16 of their first 19 field goals, but got a much-needed jolt with David DeJulius. 

DeJulius scored 12 of his 14 points in the first 20 minutes, highlighted by a stretch of making 10 of the final Wolverines’ 12 points in the first half to cut the deficit to 31-23. Michigan’s run in the second half would likely have never occurred if not for the resident sixth man off the bench.

4) Slow start for the maize and blue:

With an early Noon ET tip-off, most would assume Oregon would have been the team at a disadvantage with the three-hour time difference.

After a 3-of-18 effort from long range in a 71-62 loss at Illinois on Dec. 11, Michigan carried the performance over as it started 2-of-10 from the field as Oregon built an early double-digit lead at 15-5.

Michigan’s luck did not get any better in the first half as missed dunks and lack of execution on second and third chance opportunities lead to a 7-of-29 mark from the field. Franz Wagner took responsibility for the slow start and hopes for complete performances ahead.

“A little more energy to start the game. We have to bring a little more intensity and energy for an entire game,” Wagner said.

5) Livers and Wagner come up big in the second half:

Despite DeJulius’ best efforts to keep Michigan afloat in the first half, other players needed to emerge as Wagner and Isaiah Livers delivered.

Livers began the surge by scoring the first 11 Wolverine points, while Wagner got involved to score a combined 24 out of the first 28 in the second half.

Wagner finished with a career-high 21 points, while Livers finished with 13 in defeat. Howard saw a different perspective when it came to Wagner’s performances this season.

“Everyone thinks [Franz] has been having a bad stretch, but for me, he has been playing great for us,” Howard said. “Franz has been affecting the game in other ways than putting a ball in the basket. He’s been out there defending, rebounding and battling against big men who have 50-70 pounds more on him. Tonight was his night and the shots went in.”