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Portland vs Oregon

December 24, 2003 Columns No Comments

Ducks looking for Redemption and Revenge

by Jed Tai

Two years ago, the Oregon Ducks came up to the University of Portland in desperate need of a win. Unfortunately, they went away empty-handed and it was such a bad loss that they’ve never forgotten it. So when they came up Interstate-5 on Monday night, the Ducks were definitely not going to let this one get away. And behind some deadeye three-point shooting and a big second-half run, the Ducks put it to the hometown Pilots, 88-70, to right some of the wrongs from the past.

“Losing here two years ago might have been the worst loss that I can remember since I’ve been at Oregon,” said Oregon swingman Luke Jackson. “You just don’t forget a game like that; it was the low point of our season. I wanted this game so bad just for everybody that was on that team. We wanted to prove to (Portland) that game really hurt us. They were very capable of doing that again if we let them do it. But fortunately we had that run in the second half and we executed.”

The outsized Pilots hung tough with the bigger Ducks early in the game. For a good part of the first half Portland shot the ball well, and on a jumper by Patrick Galos with 8:39 in the period, actually led Oregon, 17-14. But the Ducks went on an 11-0 run to regain the lead and momentum, and led 34-28 at the break.

While Portland would seem to hang around for part of the second half, Oregon was able to start grabbing control and put the game into cruise control. In the opening minutes of the period, Oregon – in particular James Davis – started firing away from three-point range and hitting. And when Andre Joseph canned a long jumper at the 16:20 mark, Oregon was up by 12.

Portland could never really recover and watched as the Ducks offense executed almost to perfection. And Jackson started to get things into gear, taking over midway through the half. He shook a Pilot defender with a crossover and drove the baseline for a jam to give the Ducks a 59-46 lead. And after personally hitting a runner and two threes later, Jackson dished to a cutting James Davis at the 9:45 mark for a 69-52 advantage. The Ducks were scoring and having fun, and cruised the rest of the way out for the win.

“Second half I really thought that the offense started playing,” said Oregon center Ian Crosswhite. “We started moving the ball and were really unselfish, and (everyone) started knocking down threes.”

Oregon ended up shooting over 71 percent on three-pointers for the game, and tied a Chiles Center record for most three-point field goals made in a game by an opponent with 15. The Ducks put four players in double figures, led by Jackson’s 19. Portland was led by guard Eugene Jeter’s

While revenge certainly was a motive coming into the game, there were several other factors at play too. A lot of them had to do with the bitter taste the Ducks had in their mouth after a tough loss to Alabama in Las Vegas on Saturday.

“We felt terrible that we let a game get away against Alabama,” said Oregon head coach Ernie Kent. “So coming into this game, we called it a continuation of the Alabama second half. We wanted to come out with the same intensity and same firepower and I felt we got that accomplished.”

Portland knew that the odds would be stacked up against them, but did as good as they could despite being overmatched.

“We just ran into a team that we’d have a hard time beating at this time if we played perfect,” said Holton. “They’re finding their rhythm and their stride, and they’re really playing well.”

“On the other side of the ledger, I told our guys that at 5-5 the sky hasn’t fallen,” he added. “There’s still a lot of basketball to be played. We have three non-conference games left, and hopefully we can go into our conference season with a winning record and see what we can do, because all of these games are in preparation for conference.”

The loss was the fourth in a row for the Pilots, who had gotten off to a quick start earlier this season including upsets on the road at Oregon State and New Mexico. But a nationally-televised drubbing at the hands of Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium started a streak of four straight losses, and it doesn’t get any easier as the Pilots’ next five games are on the road.

“We’re kind of swimming upstream right now,” said Holton. “We were 5-1 and everyone thought we were going to shock the nation. But it’s a long season. I thought our trip to Duke took a lot out of us, but I aggressively scheduled this team because I thought it was in our program’s long-term interest. I didn’t want to schedule D-II teams and schedule wins – I don’t believe in self-preservation. I didn’t do that as a player and I don’t do that as a coach.”

“But now we’re experiencing some growing pains,” he added. “We have to go back to the drawing board a little bit.”

Portland’s next game will be at Boise State on December 28. Oregon, meanwhile, will have some time off. The next time the Ducks suit up will be when they start Pac-10 Conference play January 2 at USC.


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