EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon coach Dana Altman is looking for a few good men to take on some dirty work.
Scoring won’t be a problem for the Ducks, but defense is fast becoming job one after Roman Sorkin had a career-high 23 points and Troy Brown scored 18 to lead Oregon to a 70-54 victory over Coppin State on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
“We’ve got to have some volunteers to really step up and start guarding,” Altman said. “We weren’t very sharp in that second half, so there’s a lot of work to do.”
Sorkin, a senior making his first start in 54 career games, had 18 first-half points, and Brown had 12. Sorkin, whose previous high was 15, missed only one of his nine shots, went 4-of-5 on 3-pointers and added seven rebounds.
“He hit some shots tonight,” Altman said, “but that’s only one phase of the game. There were times defensively where he wasn’t that sharp, but he knew what shots he wanted to take and he did score very well for us tonight.”
Payton Pritchard, the only returning starter from Oregon’s 2017 Final Four team, added 10 points and eight rebounds. The Ducks had a 43-28 edge on the boards.
Oregon extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 43 games, a school record. The Ducks led 42-14 at the half after holding the Eagles, who missed their first nine shots, to 14.3 percent shooting (4-of-28).
However, Oregon was outscored 40-28 in the second half as Coppin State caught fire from 3-point range. The Eagles had three late possessions where they were shooting to cut the deficit to single digits.
Coppin State also committed just two turnovers — to the Ducks’ eight — after halftime.
“Really kind of a bad first showing,” Pritchard said. “Defensively, the second half was terrible.
“It was our first game for a young team, but that’s no excuse. We’ve got to come out way better than we did.”
Tre’ Thomas and Dejuan Clayton scored 13 points each in the debut of former Maryland star Juan Dixon as Coppin State’s head coach. The Eagles pulled within 10 points with 2:45 to play but got no closer.
Pritchard said Altman’s postgame assessment in the locker room was succinct.
“(Against) a team like that, we shouldn’t be struggling inside defensively,” Pritchard said. “That was his message.”
Oregon: The rebuilding Ducks saw their school-record of 27 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press Top 25 end when they were unranked in the preseason poll. Oregon and South Carolina were the only 2017 Elite Eight teams not to be ranked.
Coppin State: Picked 12th in the 13-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason poll, the Eagles haven’t won more than nine games since making the 2014 NCAA Tournament with a 12-20 record. Their schedule includes road games against five Power 5 Conference teams.
Coppin State plays its second of eight road games to start the season at East Carolina on Sunday. The Eagles’ only home game among their first 12 is against Navy on Dec. 6.
Oregon continues its soft four-game opening home stand against Prairie View A&M on Monday night. The Ducks’ first challenge should come on Thanksgiving night against Connecticut in Portland at the PK Invitational, honoring Oregon benefactor Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, with the winner likely facing No. 2 Michigan State.
Oregon has five players in the NBA for the first time. Joining veterans Aaron Brooks (Minnesota) and Joseph Young (Indiana) are rookies Dillon Brooks (Memphis), Jordan Bell (Golden State) and Tyler Dorsey (Atlanta). . The Ducks are coming off their first back-to-back undefeated seasons at home. . Coppin State coach Juan Dixon went 3-25 last season as women’s coach at the University of the District of Columbia in his only previous job as a head coach.