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Ducks get tails moving in second-half dash past Beavers

CORVALLIS — Dana Altman looked pallid, his face as white as his dress shirt as he belatedly met with the media following Oregon’s 79-66 victory over Oregon State Sunday night at Gill Coliseum.

“It was hot out there today,” the second-year Oregon coach said after a visit to the men’s room. “I got a little overheated.

“I got to get my ass in better shape.”

Altman’s Ducks (12-2) got their collective asses moving in the second half, outscoring the Beavers 51-32 over the final 20 minutes to draw first blood in the season’s Civil War series in the Pac-12 opener for both schools.

And nobody looked better doing it than freshman Damyean Dotson, who scored 15 of his season-high 21 points after intermission.

Dotson and fellow rookie guard Dominic Artis held their own with Oregon State’s veteran backcourt pair of Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson in their first taste of the Civil War rivalry.

If Dotson didn’t know beforehand what to make of most of the Gill throng of 8,612 pulling hard for the other guys, he does now.

“I’m from Houston,” the 6-5, 200-pound Dotson said. “I don’t know nothin’ about this. But I’m pretty sure it was a big game, because E.J. (Singler) was talking to us the whole week, ‘We got to get this. We got to get the Civil War.’

“But it’s a big game. I understand now. From now on, I’ll be ready for this.”

And once he got into it, Dotson — who made 8 of 15 shots and grabbed six rebounds in his 35 minutes — seemed to thrive.

“It was very exciting for me,” he said. “I wasn’t ready for it, but when I came out and seen that atmosphere ... I just love that kind of stuff. So I was ready.”

Dotson scored seven points in a 15-2 run to start the second half that Oregon used to turn a 34-28 halftime deficit into a 43-36 advantage.

“He’s a freshman,” Altman said. “He does some crazy things, but he made some nice plays the second half.

“He has a world of potential. He takes criticism pretty well. There’s a lot of talent there. He can be an awfully good player. He’s confident. He’s used to winning. He has a lot of characteristics you really like. He just has to learn how to play a little smarter at times and play within himself and within the team.”

Oregon shot .533 in the second half after shooting .448 in the first half, including 0 for 8 from 3-point range.

“Our ball movement in the first half was atrocious,” Altman said. “You’re not scoring baskets, you’re not able to set a press, you’re not able to get a good flow going.”

Mount Altman erupted at intermission in the Oregon locker room — “I just lost my composure a little bit,” the coach said with a wry grin — and suddenly the Ducks were a new team. Singler, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals, was slashing to the basket. Dotson was scoring in transition and the Ducks were pounding the boards, winning the battle 25-13 after Oregon State won the first half 18-17.

“We played tough in the second half,” said Singler, the senior forward from South Medford who has been a bit of a Beaver-Killer over the years.

“Two totally different halves,” Altman said.

And part of it, OSU’s Nelson allowed, is that the Ducks “wanted it more than us in the second half.”

“If you have to coach effort and coach things you’ve gone over and over in practice, you’re not making progress,” Altman said. “In the second half, I didn’t have to coach effort, didn’t have to coach any of those things.

“I’m not sure how Oregon State felt they played the second half; I know we played very well.”

The Beavers felt they played rather lousy after intermission.

“You can’t start the second half on a (negative) 15-2 run and expect to beat a team that’s getting votes in the top 25,” said OSU’s fifth-year coach, Craig Robinson. “We haven’t played a good two-half game in a while. That’s something I need to have us work on.

“It’s disappointing, because this was a great opportunity to be playing a good team at home early. We didn’t take advantage of that. But we have 17 more games. I’m trying to keep these guys really positive. I don’t think anybody’s going to go 18-0 in the Pac-12.”

Though Robinson claims the Beavers (10-4) “are the best team I’ve had to start a Pac-12 season with,” they have a lot of deficiencies to shore up before they win many conference games.

Shot selection was bad Sunday night, for starters. Starks (22 points on 8-for-16 shooting, including 4 for 8 from 3-point range) and Nelson (18 points on 6-for-13 shooting, with 2 for 6 from downtown) had decent numbers. But Starks, in particular, heaved up some questionable-at-best shots from long distance when working it into interior guys Devon Collier and Eric Moreland would have been a better course of action.

Middle man Joe Burton threw in three roundhouse hooks a la ex-Beaver great Steve Johnson, but also missed three wild layups and had four turnovers while trying ill-advised passes or moves to the hoop.

Collier and Moreland got only 15 shots between them — not enough against an Oregon defense against which they could have done more damage inside.

Oregon State’s depth is, well, exceedingly shallow. Collier comes off the bench behind freshman Jarmal Reid but plays starter’s minutes — Reid exited 1:36 into the second half. Besides Starks, Nelson, Collier, Moreland and Burton, no Beaver scored. The other guys went 0 for 10, including 6-9 freshman Olaf Schaftenaar, who cast up seven shots — five of them from beyond the arc — with nary a make.

“We ran some stuff and got some good looks and didn’t complete it,” Robinson said. “That could be nerves, that could be the moment, the fact it’s the first conference game — it could be psychological.

“We’re at a point where we have to feel like we can win games like this, not just that we’re supposed to win games like this.”

Oregon won despite making only 3 of 16 3-point attempts, but by enjoying a 46-26 advantage in points in the paint.

“One of these days we’re going to start shooting better,” Altman promised. “We’re not a great shooting team, but we’re a heck of a lot better than what we’ve showed.”

Oregon takes some momentum into games at Matt Knight Arena against Arizona (Thursday) and Arizona State (Sunday). Oregon State has home dates with the Sun Devils Thursday and the Wildcats on Saturday, with more question marks than ought to be at this point in the season.

No doubt, the Ducks’ asses are in better shape than those of the Beavers right now.

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