For 39 minutes on Saturday night, the BYU Cougars were pretty much beating the Oregon Ducks at their own game. By pushing the pace and shooting at a high percentage from the field, the Cougars led almost throughout regulation, but couldn’t put away the Ducks. In overtime, Oregon finally got control and pulled away for a 100-96 victory.
The win kept the 13th-ranked Ducks undefeated (11-0) on the college basketball season. Oregon has now beaten Georgetown, Illinois, Mississippi and BYU as part of this start, one that sees Ducks coach Dana Altman more than halfway to his 16th 20-win season as a head coach.
For the most of the game, however, it looked the Ducks were going to get beat by a mirror version of themselves. The Cougars (8-5) led 47-41 at the half and were playing at a pace on offense that Oregon didn’t seem to have any answer for. Whether the Ducks scored or missed on the offensive end, BYU ran the floor, found open passing lanes and hit their shots to lead by as many as 10 points.
Oregon rallied in the second half, outscoring BYU 43-37 to force overtime. Backup guard Jason Calliste had a lot to do with that for the Ducks. He finished with 31 points, hitting 7-of-13 from the field including four 3-pointers, and was a perfect 13-of-13 at the free throw line. His effort was absolutely critical for the Ducks, who saw BYU guard Tyler Haws score 32 points on 13-for-21 shooting from the field.
Oregon outscored BYU 16-12 in the overtime, getting the lead in the game for the first time since the opening minute. The Ducks got stops when they needed them and continued to put pressure on offensively.
The win is one that Oregon will value, and it will probably do the Ducks some good come Selection Sunday. However, the fact that an opponent could come into Oregon’s gym and play Oregon’s game better than it does for long stretches will be a concern moving forward. As much as the Ducks like to run and get shots up and score, it will be Oregon’s work on the defensive end that will determine just how far the Ducks go in the Pac-12 and beyond this season.