EUGENE, Ore. – Joevan Catron scored 18 points and Oregon beat Creighton 71-58 Wednesday night to even the best-of-three College Basketball Invitational championship at one game apiece.
The Ducks (20-18) will host the Bluejays (23-15) in a deciding game on Friday night.
Malcolm Armstead added 14 points for Oregon, which led by 21 points and scored 35 points off Creighton turnovers.
Gregory Echenique and Jahenns Manigat each had 10 points for the Bluejays, who won the opening game of the championship series 84-76 at the Qwest Center in Omaha.
Oregon coach Dana Altman left Creighton to become head coach of the Ducks this season.
Altman is Creighton's all-time winningest coach, with 327 victories and seven NCAA tournament appearances in 16 years. He left the 6,000-student Jesuit school last April for a $1.7 million-a-year offer from Oregon. The move came as a big surprise to his players and Creighton fans.
Altman said he had dreaded the trip back to the Qwest Center, but he got a warm reception from the CBI single-game record crowd of 12,381. He was replaced at Creighton by Greg McDermott, previously head coach at Iowa State.
Wednesday night's game was a chance for Altman to show off his new digs, the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena, which opened earlier this year. The Matt, as it is known, replaced beloved but outdated McArthur Court, the Ducks' home since 1927.
Oregon capitalized Wednesday night on its advantage at the Matt, with its distinctive woodsy-looking floor.
The Ducks took a 15-8 lead after Jay-R Strowbridge's fast-break layup midway through the first half. But the Bluejays closed the gap to 15-14 on Josh Jones' 3-pointer.
The Ducks pulled back out in front after E.J. Singler's 3-pointer, Armstead's jumper and Catron's layup made it 25-16 with less than five minutes before the break.
Armstead's layup with less than a minute left gave the Ducks a 35-21 lead going into the break.
Creighton Freshman Doug McDermott, the coach's son and the team's leading scorer with an average of 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, got into foul trouble early and sat for a good part of the first half. McDermott finished with six points.
Oregon extended the lead to 44-23 after Garrett Sim's 3-poiner. Sim, who did not score in the first half, had seven points less than three minutes into the second and finished with nine.
Sim's layup with 12:58 left made it 54-33.
The Ducks got sloppy down the stretch and Creighton was able to narrow the margin to 58-46 after Kenny Lawson's jumper and four straight free throws from McDermott and Darryl Ashford.
The threat was short-lived, however, and Catron's 3-pointer with 5:33 left gave the Ducks a 66-48 lead.
The CBI tournament is in its fourth year. The Oregon State Beavers won the 2009 title, defeating UTEP in three games.
Last year's CBI champion was Virginia Commonwealth, which plays Butler in an NCAA tournament semifinal on Saturday.