After Oregon (3-1) forward Jay Anderson put Oregon up 2-0, the Ducks missed their next ten shot attempts and Kansas (5-1) jumped out to a 10-3 lead. Oregon struggled to come back from that for the rest of the half. Nothing went well for the Ducks in the period. Other than forward Luke Jackson's nine points, nobody contributed offensively, partially because of Oregon's poor ball movement due to tough defense by the Jayhawks.
"They were very good defensively in the first half," Oregon head coach, Ernie Kent, told OSN.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Kansas forward Moulaye Niang (55) knocks the ball away from Oregon forward Ian Crosswhite (11) during the second half Saturday, Dec. 13, 2003 at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas won the game 77-67. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Oregon started the second half on a bit of a tear and actually cut the Kansas lead to two points from a Luke Jackson-dunk after a great pass from forward Adam Zahn. The 11-0 Oregon run made the score 49-47 with 12:14 left but then, Oregon went cold. Prior to that moment, the Ducks clawed their way back from a 15-point deficit but then couldn't make another field goal until the 8:24 mark. That bucket was a Jackson three ball which brought Oregon to within 11 points, but it was too little too late.
Kansas crashed the offensive boards hard in the second half and found themselves with many second chances which they took advantage of. Oregon also had a number of defensive breakdowns in the half court and in transition defense that allowed for Kansas to get a few cheap buckets. On three straight baskets between with just under ten minutes to play, Kansas found themselves with three transition opportunities where Oregon couldn't stop their running game.
Kansas forward Wayne Simien was a workhorse for the Jayhawks, dominating the Oregon big men inside. His play on the boards and defensively kept the Ducks from being able to get anything going in the paint. Playing without suspended forward Jeff Graves, Simien showed his ability to control a game, finishing with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
(PHOTO LEFT) Kansas forward Wayne Simien, center, pulls down a rebound between Oregon guards Aaron Brooks, 00, and forward Ian Crosswhite, right, during the second half Saturday, Dec. 13, 2003, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Simien led Kansas with 14 rebounds and19 points as they beat Oregon, 77-67. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
One positive for the Ducks came from Luke Jackson. The senior from Cresswell, Oregon finished with 27 points, (a season high) on 9-14 shooting from the floor. He also had eight boards. Jackson tried to take the game over in the second half, and he did for a while, but Kansas was too overpowering.
"Luke Jackson played his heart out," Kent said.
Oregon also matched the Jayhawks in the rebounding category. Both teams finished with 40 boards and Oregon actually out rebounded Kansas on the offensive glass 16-15.
The Ducks looked out of sync all game long, especially on the offensive end. Defensively Oregon was good enough to win, but their struggles on the offensive end had many causes.
Point guard Aaron Brooks, who finished with a career high 12 points looked like a true freshman who remembered what it was like to be the dominating player in high school. He finished 4-16 from the floor and took many ill-advised three point shots. The former McDonald's All-American looked out of control from time to time and forced shots and passes. He also showed incredible quickness and hit an unbelievable reverse lay-up late in the game. Center Ian Crosswhite looked sluggish at times on both ends of the floor. Defensively he didn't always seem to be in the right position. Offensively, he didn't come to passes or show the hustle that fans have seen in the first three games. He finished with 12 points on 4-10 shooting, a far cry from his high percentage output in the first three games of the season.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Kansas guards Keith Langford, left, and J.R. Giddens, right, attempt to strip the ball away from Oregon Guard Andre Joseph, center, during the first half Saturday, Dec. 13, 2003, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Guards James Davis and Andrè Joseph also struggled to get going. Davis, who is a 54 percent three-point shooter this season, went 0-2 from long range and had his only basket come on a 'gimme' lay-up with under a minute left in the game. Joseph was 2-8 from the floor and finished with seven points.
"James (Davis) and Andrè (Joseph) couldn't get on track shooting the ball and Kansas had a lot to do with that,' Kent said.
Obviously, Oregon missed Mitch Platt inside. The freshman center from Henderson, Nevada sprained his ankle against Marshall and was in street clothes for this contest. The Ducks did see Matt Short for the first time this year after experiencing a stress fracture in his foot in the preseason. Short played 16 minutes and did not score.
"When we get everybody back healthy, the good thing I can take away from this is, I think we have a chance to be a good basketball team," Kent said. "Obviously, we aren't there yet."