OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Xavier Pinson scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half and Missouri overcame a mid-game lull and late Oregon flurry to beat the No. 21 Ducks 83-75 on Wednesday night.
Mark Smith scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half as Missouri (2-0) built a 17-point lead, but Chris Duarte scored eight straight points to get the Ducks within five in the final minute.
Eugene Omoruyi set career highs with 31 points and 11 rebounds in his first game for the Ducks (0-1) since transferring from Rutgers. While Missouri missed 15 shots in a row spanning the halves, Omoruyi scored 12 straight points to lead Oregon’s push to get within single digits.
Pinson and Javon Pickett, who had 11 of his 13 points in the second half, helped Missouri rebuild the lead before the Ducks made it close late.
The game was played in Omaha because of scheduling problems for both teams caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon coach Dana Altman was able to use his connections at Creighton to set up games with the Tigers and Seton Hall on Friday at CHI Health Center.
Altman coached at Creighton for 16 years before going to Oregon and he remains close friends with athletic director Bruce Rasmussen, who served as a middleman with arena officials.
The Ducks were without junior point guard Will Richardson, who had surgery on his left thumb Wednesday and will be out at least six weeks. He’s Oregon’s most experienced player and was set to take the place of Payton Pritchard, the 2019-20 Pac-12 player of the year and a first-round NBA draft pick by the Boston Celtics.
UNLV transfer Amauri Hardy opened the game at point guard, and two other transfers, Omoruyi and Eric Williams Jr. from Duquesne, also started for the Ducks.
The Tigers played with urgency on both ends of the floor in the empty arena. They forced early turnovers that were turned into easy run-out baskets.
The 6-foot-10, 260-pound Jeremiah Tilmon Jr. was a load inside and created shots on the perimeter for Smith, who made three 3-pointers during a 32-12 run that put Missouri ahead 39-22.
Missouri: The Tigers got a strong early test in their second game and won a game they probably would not have during last season’s 15-16 campaign. They beat a ranked opponent on a neutral court for the first time since 2012.
Oregon: The defending Pac-12 champion Ducks will be trying to find their way for a while without Richardson and a mix of newcomers. Transfers Aaron Estrada (Saint Peter’s) and LJ Figueroa (St. John’s) were with the Ducks but didn’t play. They are still awaiting clearance from the NCAA.
Altman remains Creighton’s career wins leader. He and Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin squared off in Missouri Valley Conference games in the building from 2008-10 when Martin coached Missouri State.
The Ducks last played in Omaha in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Ducks beat Oklahoma State in the first round before losing to eventual national runner-up Wisconsin.
The arena also was the site of Missouri’s 86-84 upset loss to Norfolk State in a 2 vs. 15 seed matchup in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Missouri visits Wichita State on Sunday.
Oregon plays Seton Hall in Omaha on Friday.