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The season has been a work in progress for the Oregon men’s basketball team.
Coach Dana Altman has lamented the lack of communication, chemistry and consistency on the court since the Ducks opened the season with a pair of dominant victories only to lose six of their next 10 games.
At 6-6, Oregon is off to its slowest start in 12 seasons. The only other time an Altman-coached team had fewer than nine wins after 12 games was when the Ducks opened 7-5 in 2010-11 — Altman’s first in Eugene and when they were still playing in McArthur Court.
There have been signs of improvement as the Ducks prepare to host Pepperdine at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the last nonconference game of the season.
The Waves (5-8), led by former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, have won three straight but haven’t beaten a Pac-12 team since 2011.
The Ducks are coming off a 78-70 loss on Saturday to No. 1 Baylor in which they led at halftime. Their last three losses have come by a combined 13 points, including a 69-67 overtime loss to Arizona State and a 72-69 loss at Stanford on a buzzer-beater by the Cardinal.
“I’m proud of the guys for competing,” junior guard De’Vion Harmon said after Saturday’s game against the Bears. “We competed as a team. We just made some mistakes here and there, turnovers, mistakes that we can fix. They’re all fixable so that’s the really good thing, and we’ll bounce back. We got another good one Tuesday, then we got the break, then we got 18 games in conference play. It’s time to get it.”
Harmon, a transfer from Oklahoma, has been heating up offensively the past week, scoring 19 in a win against Portland on 6-of-10 shooting, and 18 against Baylor on 7-of-13 shooting, to raise his season average to 10.3 points per game. He made three 3-pointers in each game and is making nearly 40% of his attempts from long range this season.
Harmon isn’t the only newcomer becoming more productive recently as junior forward Quincy Guerrier, a transfer from Syracuse, averaged 14.7 points and 6.0 rebounds the past three games to increase his season averages to 8.3 and 5.1, respectively.
“I think we’re taking a step every day,” Guerrier said last week. “It’s hard sometimes with a lot of transfers on the team, a new system, so we have to be connected. Sometimes it feels like we’re not connected, so that’s one of the big things on our defense and offense. If we keep working, keep communicating, I think we’re going to be fine for the season.”
Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter @chansen_RG or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more sports coverage, visit registerguard.com. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.
Oregon vs. Pepperdine
Projected Oregon (6-6) starters
De'Vion Harmon, 6-2, Jr. (10.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
Will Richardson, 6-5, Sr. (12.2 ppg, 3.3 apg)
Eric Williams Jr., 6-7, Sr. (8.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
Quincy Guerrier, 6-8, Jr. (8.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
N'Faly Dante, 6-11, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Projected Pepperdine (5-8) starters
Jan Zidek, 6-9, Jr. (12.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
Houston Mallette, 6-5, Fr. (12.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Jade Smith, 6-4, Sr. (9.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
Keith Fisher III, 6-8, Sr. (8.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
Mike Mitchell Jr., 6-2,Fr. (8.2 ppg, 5.1 apg)
Time: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Matthew Knight Arena
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/KUJZ-FM (95.3)
This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Oregon Ducks men's basketball seeks gains with Pepperdine Waves up next