Players currently on Oregon’s roster logged 26 total minutes in last year’s Final Four game against North Carolina, 23 of those by then-freshman guard Payton Pritchard. Everyone else from the Ducks’ 33-win team either graduated, transferred or turned pro early.
That’s a lot to replace, and for much of this season Oregon’s inexperience showed as it started out 5-4 and then lost five of its first seven Pac-12 games.
Yet following a weekend sweep of the Arizona schools, including the overtime victory against Arizona on Saturday, the Ducks (19-10, 9-7) are still alive for a return to the NCAA tournament. Improvement has been seen almost across the board, none more so than in the play of graduate transfers Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh.
Brown, who came from New Mexico, is coming off a season-best 30 points against Arizona, while Illinois State transfer McIntosh had his third 20-point game (second against the Wildcats). They combined to average 42.5 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists over the weekend.
For the season Brown, a 6-foot-4 guard, is averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists and 6-foot-7 forward McIntosh is pitching in 11.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Each is scoring slightly better in Pac-12 play.
Oregon coach Dana Altman told Steve Mims of the Eugene Register-Guard that both players took a while to settle in with the Ducks despite being veterans.
“He scored a lot of points on teams that didn’t do very well,” Altman said of Brown. “We wanted to get his efficiency better and at times it has been. He had some games where he has flat out been the difference because of his scoring.”
Of McIntosh, Altman credited his yearlong consistency but noted that it’s been even more so of late. In the past five games McIntosh is averaging 18.2 points and shooting 50 percent compared to 46.7 percent for the season.
“In the last month, he’s done a good job,” Altman said of McIntosh.
Brown and McIntosh will be relied on for more strong play this weekend with Oregon finishing the regular season at the Washington schools. The Ducks likely need to win both and make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas to ensure an NCAA bid.
The post Grad transfers stepping up as Oregon pushes for NCAA bid appeared first on Diehards.
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