Nate Bittle notched his career high in points for the second straight game as top-seeded Oregon bounced UCF from the second round of the NIT in Eugene, Ore., on Sunday, 68-54.
Bittle poured in 21 points on 7-14 shooting a game after logging 17 in the Ducks’ opening-round win over UC Irvine on Wednesday. His 13 rebounds matched a career high and completed his second-career double-double.
Quincy Guerrier tacked on 16 points and Kel’el Ware added 11 for Oregon (21-14), which won its second straight game without its top three scorers.
The Ducks will host second-seeded Wisconsin (19-14) in the quarterfinals.
C.J. Kelly scratched across 13 points for the Knights (19-15), while leading scorer Taylor Hendricks was stifled to nine points on 3-for-10 shooting. He had been averaging 15.3 points per game.
After making nine of their final 11 field goal attempts in the first half and leading by nine, the Ducks carried seized total control in the second half.
Bittle found success in the paint before Lok Wur stretched the Knights’ defense with his only 3-pointer of the game. Rivaldo Soares scored the Ducks’ next four points, and Ware’s three-point play capped a 12-0 run that widened Oregon’s lead to 21 with 15:48 to play.
UCF never pulled closer than 13 points and shot a dreary 30.6 percent from the floor for the game, included 16.7 percent (5 of 30) from distance.
The Knights missed their first eight shots of the game and never found sustained success on the offensive end, committing 13 turnovers against a season-low six assists.
After falling behind early in a defensive battle, Keeshawn Barthelemy engineered a personal 6-0 run for Oregon that evened the score at 15 apiece.
Bittle’s 3-pointer at the 6:59 mark was Oregon’s first of the game, and the Ducks finished the first half shooting 48.1 percent from the floor to enter halftime ahead 33-24.
The Knights never made more than two straight shots in the period’s final 12 minutes and entered halftime shooting 29 percent.
–Field Level Media