EUGENE, Ore. — Giving up 82 points wasn’t what Oregon coach Dana Altman had in mind for his team’s final game before it opens Pac-12 play.
That message will be driven home when the Ducks return from a four-day break to resume practice on Christmas night.
Payton Pritchard scored 24 points and MiKyle McIntosh had 17 to help lead Oregon to a 96-82 victory over Central Arkansas on Wednesday night.
“You score 96 and you shoot 62 (percent) and you have some bad turnovers, so offensively I’m not nearly as concerned as giving up 82,” Altman said. “That’s our biggest concern.
“We hit some shots and made some plays for each other. We had some chances to take them out, (but we had) some bad turnovers and some bad defensive possessions.”
Pritchard had 12 points in the first 7 minutes for the Ducks (10-3), who won their fifth consecutive game. Troy Brown added 14 points and M.J. Cage had 11.
Pritchard also matched his season high with eight assists and made 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Jordan Howard had 35 points, two off his career high, to lead the Bears (6-7). Mathieu Kamba added 14 points.
Central Arkansas had scored 101 points in an overtime loss to UCLA and 96 in a rout of California, so Oregon knew what to expect from the Bears.
“Our toughness and our ability to be physical when things aren’t going our way is something our young team has struggled with,” Altman said, “and our vets haven’t given us the leadership we need.”
The Ducks opened a 55-40 halftime lead by shooting 22 of 30 for 73.3 percent behind Pritchard, who made his first five shots. Oregon cooled off in the second half to finish 36 of 58 (62 percent) from the field, including 12 of 20 from 3-point range.
Central Arkansas got within nine points three times in the second half. The Bears hit 13 of 26 from beyond the arc and 30 of 62 overall (48.4 percent).
Oregon had a 34-25 rebounding edge as Pritchard, McIntosh and Kenny Wooten had six each. The Ducks also had a 44-28 advantage in points in the paint.
Cage, who’d played just 42 minutes in six games this season, had his best performance so far. The sophomore, who considered leaving Oregon before the season, had four rebounds, including three offensive, in 16 minutes with Paul White unavailable because of a concussion.
“I knew I was going to get some extra minutes,” Cage said, “so I just made sure I was ready to go.”
Altman said Cage’s three putbacks were key for the Ducks in the second half.
“We only got 13 second-chance points, and I believe he got six of them,” Altman said. “He definitely gave us a lift and those are extra possessions.”
Oregon will have four days after the holiday break to get ready for Utah and then Colorado two days later.
“We have got to improve,” Altman said. “We’ve got to do a better job defensively and a better job of taking care of our responsibilities for us to compete in the conference.
“We’re going to have to do a much better job.
Oregon, at 10-3, finished its nonconference schedule one game behind its pace from last season, when it advanced to the Final Four. While last year’s team started Pac-12 play ranked in the top 20, this season’s Ducks — with four new starters — haven’t received a vote in the last four polls.
Central Arkansas went 1-2 against Pac-12 teams in nonconference play. The Bears beat California 96-69 on the road two weeks ago for their first win over a Power 5 team since becoming a NCAA Division I member 11 years ago. They’ve yet to win more than 14 games since then.
Wooten, making his first start in place of White, threw down a soaring, two-handed put-back dunk for his second of two consecutive baskets after Oregon’s lead was cut to nine the last time. Wooten is 29 of 35 (82.9 percent) from the field over his last five games.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Jordan Howard made 8 of 9 from 3-point range and 12 of 17 overall. The senior now has eight 30-plus career scoring games and needs 33 to become Central Arkansas’ second 2,000-point scorer.
Troy Brown scored in double figures for the seventh game in a row and his 10th in 12 games, all of which he’s started. He missed the buzzer-beater loss to Boise State that broke Oregon’s 46-game home winning streak because of a concussion.