“The biggest change was the rebounding,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
However, the defensive catalyst was Amin, who came off the bench after starting his first seven games for the Ducks. His last start was in a four-point loss at Houston that saw Oregon trail by 20 in the first half.
Amin wasn’t about to let that happen again, so he let fly in the team huddle.
“Yeah, I had to,” Amin said. “At home we can’t let that happen, get down 10 or 20 and then start playing hard and getting defensive stops.
“We showed we can be a good defensive team. We just have to play hard the whole game.”
Altman said the Ducks finished with a season-high 50 deflections because they were more active with their hands.
“I thought (Amin) gave us a big lift,” Altman said. “He had four steals and three of them in the first half. Ehab’s energy really turned the game around.”
Oregon also held the Toreros (8-3) to 34.6 percent shooting in the second half and finished with a season-high 11 steals and six blocked shots, including four by Bol.
Bol was 9-for-14 from the field and 2-for-3 from the 3-point line, where he’s shooting better than 50 percent on the season. For the third time, the 7-foot-2 freshman was one rebound shy of a double-double, of which he already has four.
Most of his other field goals came on mid-range jumpers or jump hooks in the lane.
“It was really just where my teammates were getting me the ball and where I was open,” Bol said.
San Diego missed a chance for its best start to a season since it joined Division I in 1979-80. Isaiah Pineiro led the Toreros with 14 points, Olin Carter III had 12 and Tyler Williams 11.
The Ducks went ahead to stay on Bol’s driving bank shot early in the second half and pushed its lead to eight points four times behind Bol’s 12 points after the break.
With Pineiro, San Diego’s leading scorer at 20.7 points per game, on the bench with two early fouls, the Toreros were up 29-20 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half behind Carter’s 10 points. However, the Ducks cranked up their defense to close the half with an 11-3 run by forcing six turnovers to cut the deficit to 32-31.
“It’s a good win for us,” Altman said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for San Diego and the way they play.
“We’ve got to finish the nonconference really strong here. We’ve taken our lumps early, and we’ve got to finish the month strong.”
San Diego coach Sam Scholl ramped up his veteran team’s nonconference schedule in his first season with four games against Pac-12 competition. The Toreros are now 1-2 with one to go against Washington State in Las Vegas before Christmas.
Oregon played from behind almost the entire first half and showed the defensive grit coach Dana Altman has been seeking with a smothering trap that produced 16 turnovers.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
San Diego was only the third opponent to shoot better than 40 percent against Oregon this season. The Ducks came in second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 35.5 percent.
HE SAID IT
Boise State comes in Saturday at 4-5 but has given the Ducks all they can handle the past few years, winning on a buzzer-beater last season and beating Oregon in Boise three years ago. The teams will play home-and-home two weeks apart this month. “It’s been a great series for us, and even though they’ve popped us, it makes us better,” Altman said. “They’ve struggled some just like us, and we both need to win on Saturday night.”
San Diego hosts Northern Colorado on Saturday night.