By Aubrey Wieber
Published by Emerald Media Group on 2/9/13
In a sloppy game that consisted of long bouts of poor shooting, offensive fouls and turnovers, one thing was consistent: rebounding. Oregon out rebounded Utah 41-19 Saturday night at Matthew Knight Arena, leading to a 73-64 victory.
At halftime, Oregon had out rebounded Utah 22-6, despite the Ducks shooting a lowly 30.8 percent, leading to Oregon trailing 30-22 at the break. Without strong rebounding, Oregon would have been buried in a hole so deep half way through the game that climbing out of it to win the game would have been unfathomable. Perhaps more surprising than the 16 rebound surplus that they had was that they were even able to pull 22 boards down with Utah shooting 57 percent and the Ducks committing 11 first half turnovers.
“We were rebounding the heck out of it in the first half,” coach Dana Altman said. “We just didn’t get anything back in the goal. To beat someone in second chance points 24-6 was huge for us. That was a big stat.”
But rebounding is what Oregon does. They lead the Pac-12 with 38.4 rebounds per game and have out-rebounded their opponent 641-498 on the year. 143 more rebounds over 25 games is pretty impressive. Their plus 7.7 rebounding per game margin also leads the league.
Aside from their gaudy numbers being impressive and league-best, they are also vital to the success they have seen. In their five losses, they were out rebounded in three of them. The two where they lost despite out-rebounding the opposing team came against Cal and Colorado. Oregon out-rebounded Cal by one and Colorado by five. In both games, Oregon was missing their starting point guard, Dominic Artis.
Arsalan Kazemi, who leads the team with 9.4 boards per game, knows how important his rebounding, and the team rebounding as a whole, is to the outcome of games.
“If feels really good,” Kazemi said of the rebounding advantage. “I still have a vision of the rebounds that I missed (against Cal and Colorado). It’s really tough but I’m glad I got most of the rebounds tonight that I could have gotten. That’s the way that I can help my team and I’m going to keep on doing it.”
A dominant rebounding performance like this couldn’t have come at a better time. Oregon’s offense has looked chaotic to say the least, in the five games without Artis. They have fallen from a top ten team to a team that will most likely be unranked come Monday.
The Ducks struggles in the first 25 minutes of play were brashly apparent and the surplus on the boards was easily the difference between a win and a fourth straight loss. A come-from-behind win like this could be just what the Ducks need to spark them into playing the way they did their first 20 games, especially with the return of Artis seemingly in the near future.