Ducks Fall to No. 1 Duke

Portland -- When Oregon took the floor against the top ranked Duke Blue Devils, few expected the game to be anything more than an exhibition yet Oregon battled hard. However, Duke's superior talent led by Kyle Singler was too much for the feisty Ducks and Oregon fell 98-71. For one Duck, E.J. Singler, it was a chance to play against his older brother.

(PHOTO) Oregon's E.J. Singler (25) is guarded by Kyle Singler (12) during the Oregon-Duke game at the Rose Garden in Portland on Nov. 27, 2010. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

Kyle Singler ended up with a game high 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting including 5-of-9 behind the 3-point line. Singler, performing for the first time as a collegian in front of his home-state fans, family and friends, amply demonstrated why he is high on many NBA draft boards. It was also a special game for him as it was the first time he has competed against his younger brother E.J. Singler.

"Throughout my whole life, the state has supported my family and me a lot," said Kyle Singler of the game. I'm very thankful for the fans and all the support and everyone coming out today to watch."

Younger brother E.J. Singler had a little tougher time getting things going. Perhaps it was a little bit of nerves facing his older brother, a person E.J. describes as someone he has always held in high esteem.

"He has always meant a lot to me," confessed E.J. Singler about his older brother. "As a person I have looked up to him basketball wise and as a brother. It was a really cool game I wanted to soak it in."

E.J. Singler finished up with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Joevan Catron was the Ducks leading scorer with 18 followed by Jeremy Jacob with 12 and Johnathan Loyd with 10.

Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman, recognizing that the game would be a monumental challenge for his rebuilt team, was disappointed in the outcome but took some things away from the game as benchmarks on what to improve on -- fundamentals and getting more size in the future.

"They are a really good basketball team," said Altman of Duke. "They definitely exposed some of our weaknesses. Their size was a problem."

While the over match in size was evident on court, the scrappy Ducks did manage to do some things that may help down the road.

"It was a tough game for us, but I like some of the opportunities our press gave us," Altman said of his team's play. "We have a lot of work to do, especially on fundamentals and on the offensive end. I liked our fight, our guys continued to play hard and with good intensity."

As a team Duke shot 53.2 percent including 48.1 percent from the 3-point line. The Blue Devils held a 48-33 rebounding advantage but did turn the ball over 19 times, mostly do to the Oregon defensive pressure. In fact, Oregon recorded 15 steals for the game. Oregon shot 33.8 percent which was mostly due to Duke's superior size, especially around the basket. The Blue Devils had five blocked shots. Oregon simply could not cash in on Duke's turnovers, as the Blue Devils were able to get back on defense and turn Oregon shooters away at the basket.

Oregon now puts the experience behind them as they move on to Missouri at McArthur Court in Eugene, next Thursday. When asked if he thought the loss to Duke would be harmful to the program, Altman simply looked forward.

"I think they'll be fine," said Altman of his team. "We have small steps at a time to complete in order to compete against Missouri, and to get ready for the Pac-10."

For one young man though the game was special, even if his team lost. It is likely that when E.J. Singler and his brother Kyle talk about the time they played each other in Portland, some of the more important things in life will remain.

"Family; it means a lot to the whole family," confessed E.J. Singler. "It was definitely one of the most fun games I have played in."

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