PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—After a rather weak first half against Portland, the No. 11 Oregon Ducks settled into their first road game and kept their young season perfect.
Malik Hairston scored 24 points and the Ducks beat the Pilots 85-61 on Saturday night.
“They had a lot of energy. They used that crowd to get them involved and they made some plays,” Hairston said. “But we were able to get back in our rhythm.”
Maarty Leunen added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Ducks, who have opened the season with four straight victories.
The Pilots (1-3) were led by Taishi Ito with 13 points in their home opener, but trailed by as many as 26 points to Oregon.
The Portland fans at the Chiles Center taunted the Ducks by chanting “Arizona! Arizona!” The No. 2-ranked Oregon football team lost to unranked Arizona on Thursday night, dashing the team’s hopes for a bid at the national championship.
Even Oregon coach Ernie Kent mentioned the heartbreaking loss for the Ducks.
“It’s a good time for us to be playing right now, after everything that went down in Arizona,” he said.
The Ducks were without starting guard Bryce Taylor, who sprained his right shoulder in practice the day before. They were also without center Ray Schafer, who broke bones in his left hand this past week.
The Pilots went up 18-14 on Robin Smeulder’s layup in a crowd under the basket. The lead was short-lived, and Oregon came back 19-18 on Hairston’s 3-pointer.
Oregon extended the lead to 29-22 on Leunen’s jumper. But Portland answered with a 9-0 run, tying it at 29 on Smeulder’s layup.
Leunen scored again at the buzzer to give the Ducks a narrow 31-29 lead at the break.
“In the first half we weren’t playing with a lot of energy. We weren’t getting rebounds and we weren’t playing very good defense,” Leunen said. “So, we learned our lesson and came out and played a lot better in the second half.”
Oregon pulled away from the smaller Pilots early in the second half, and Tajuan Porter’s 3-pointer made it 35-44 with 16:12 left. Porter made a school-record 110 3-pointers as a freshman last season.
Hairston’s 3-pointer made it 63-46 and the Pilots could not keep up.
“They were flying around in the first half and rebounding,” Portland coach Eric Reveno said. “And then I think they wore us down.”
Hairston is averaging 22.5 points through Oregon’s first four games.
Porter finished with 15 points for the Ducks. Freshman Kamyron Brown, who started in place of Taylor, had 10 points and 10 assists.
Brown said he was nervous at the start.
“As the game went on, I settled down and the team started getting defensive stops,” Brown said.
The Pilots were coming off the World Vision Classic in Fresno, Calif. They lost to Fresno and San Diego State before beating Liberty, 73-62.
The Ducks swept the field—Pepperdine, Pacific and Western Michigan—at the World Vision Invitational at McArthur Court last weekend.