Singler leads the way as Ducks upset Arizona for first landmark win at Matthew Knight Arena

By Isaac Rosenthal

Singler leads the way as Ducks upset Arizona for first landmark win at Matthew Knight Arena

There were about 2,500 U. Oregon students in Matthew Knight Arena Thursday night, and by the end of the game all of them wanted a spot on the court. The Ducks came away with the 70-66 upset to take down the first top 5 team to play at Matthew Knight Arena, but that didn’t always look like it was in the cards.

Arizona started hot, and the Ducks started flat and out of nowhere the Ducks trailed 11-0.

“We weren’t quite ready to start that game,” head coach Dana Altman said.

But as soon as the Ducks got on the board, the sold-out student section made its presence felt and it didn’t take long — less than two minutes, actually — for the Ducks to level the score and take their first lead on a Damyean Dotson jumper.

Arizona wouldn’t give up the lead without a fight and led again by as many as five points midway through the first half, but Oregon ended the half on a 21-5 run, sending Matthew Knight Arena into a frenzy at halftime.

The Ducks were quick to credit the fans post-game.

“The fans were unbelievable tonight,” E.J. Singler said. “The student section, the Pit Crew, was on fire. It really made a difference in this game.”

Singler had no small role in the Ducks victory, either. The lone senior on the Ducks to have played his entire career in Eugene finished with a team-high 14 points and added seven rebounds and seven assists. Much of that production came in the first half, with Singler on triple-double pace going into the interval. Playing in what he called the biggest game of his Oregon career, Singler showed that he isn’t being bothered by the knee injury that plagued him at the start of the season.

The forward from Medford played with a lot of emotion too, perhaps never more apparent than after he made a layup with contact after a coast-to-coast drive and let out something of a primal scream, and it wasn’t lost on his teammates.

“Every time I see E flex,” Johnathan Loyd said, “I flex too. That gets me hyped.”

Maybe it was Singler’s emotions, maybe it was the Pit Crew’s excitement, but something in the Matthew Knight Arena air Thursday night got the Ducks’ entire team going. Eight different Ducks scored, four finished in double figures, and Oregon racked up 17 assists as a team. The Ducks bench outscored their counterparts 17-6, and every Duck who played more than one minute found the scoresheet.

“Our team tonight was really unselfish,” Singler said. “We really made a lot of different plays for a lot of different people.”

As good as the Ducks’ win was, it’s just their second game of conference play, and that means there’s a lot of season left.

“It’s not our high point,” Singler said. “We got a lot of season left, and we got some goals we want to accomplish.”

What are those goals?

“Win the Pac-12,” Singler said.

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