Opening Act

It was too easy for the Oregon Ducks in tonight's Pac-10 opener. Everything came easy. Three pointers came easy, penetration came easy, rebounds came easy and so did the win. Oregon took a 49-33 halftime lead and never looked back, cruising to a 92-74 win over the USC Trojans in front of 3,578 at the LA Sports Arena. <br><br>(PHOTO LEFT) Oregon forward Ian Crosswhite, left, puts a shot up against USC center Rory O'Neil during the first half, in Los Angeles. Oregon won, 92-74. (AP/Nam y. Huh)

With little over four seconds to go in the first half, Oregon's Luke Jackson inbound the ball at midcourt. Streaking to the hoop was Ian Crosswhite, who Jackson hit in stride. Crosswhite caught the ball while leaping toward the basket, and laid it in while still in the air. It was just one alley-oop but that one alley-oop capped an 11-0 Duck run to close out the first half with the Ducks leading 49-33.

Ian Crosswhite, who finished as Oregon's leading scorer with 22 points and 13 boards, said that the alley-oop wasn't the play that was called.

(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon university guard Andre Joseph drives to the basket against Unversity of Southern California during the first half, Friday, Jan. 2, 2004, in Los Angeles. Oregon won, 92-74. (AP Photo/ Nam y. Huh)

"Luke (Jackson) just yelled to me, ‘Ian, take it back door' and I went ‘Alright,'" Ian Crosswhite told OSN. "He threw it up there and somehow I dropped it in."

Before the electrifying Jackson to Crosswhite play, the game was fairly even. Although USC looked sloppy, the Ducks (6-2, 1-0) couldn't totally pull away from the Trojans (5-5, 0-1). It took that 11-0 run to take the air out of USC's sails.

The run opened up with Crosswhite hitting a three-pointer off of an inbound play. Then Oregon senior guard James Davis hit two of his career high seven three pointers, one of which was well beyond NBA range. Finally, the alley-oop killed USC's spirits.

Although Davis finished with 21 points, it wasn't just the Davis and Crosswhite show, everyone contributed in some form.

True freshman guard Aaron Brooks showed Allen Iverson-esque ability early in the first half. Brooks sliced to the hoop, single-handedly broke down the USC press, drilled a pair of long-range bombs and distributed the ball extremely well. Brooks finished with 13 points on 5-6 shooting.

Guard Andre Joseph and forward Luke Jackson both had solid performances with 10 and 14 points each.

(PHOTO LEFT) Oregon University guard Andre Joseph shoots past Unversity of Southern California guard Desmon Farmer during the first half, Friday, Jan. 2, 2004, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/ Nam y. Huh)

Oregon center Mitch Platt, seeing his first action since he sprained his ankle against Marshall, played 13 minutes and played very solid defense when he as in the game. Platt, who is from Henderson, Nevada, had a very large contingent at the game. The Platt Pack was possibly larger than USC's entire cheering section.

The Ducks just got better as the game went on.

"They feed off of each other," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent told OSN.

When one Duck would get hot, his teammates would not only find him on the offensive end, but step up all aspects of their games. The intensity built throughout the game, even when the reserves were in.

"When we went to our bench, the intensity was there," Kent told OSN.

Even though USC is a very athletic team, Oregon was able to match their athleticism and use their talent to overpower the Trojans. USC shot only 40 percent from the floor while the Ducks were over 51 percent. It was obvious that Oregon's ball movement was too much for USC. They couldn't stop the Ducks from finding open players.

Not only were the Ducks shooting well from the floor but also they shot especially well from long range. After hitting 71 percent of their trifectas against the University of Portland, the Ducks followed that up with a 14-23 effort today for a 61 percent mark. Many of those shots were wide-open looks.

"This team put on a clinic today," Kent said of his squad on OSN.

(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon university center Jay Anderson, right, drives to the basket past Unversity of Southern California forward Jeff McMillan during the first half, Friday, Jan. 2, 2004, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/ Nam y. Huh)

If the high percentage three point shooting was nothing new for Duck fans to see, Ian Crosswhite's new haircut certainly was. The sophomore from Castlecrag, Australia trimmed his locks down very short in the previous week.

"Andre Joseph and Adam Zahn were talking, ‘Ian why don't you buzz your hair off?' and I'm like, ‘Oh well, I got nothing else to do, school's not in.'" Crosswhite said. "I went back to the house and Adam cut it all off. It kind of annoyed the girlfriend a little bit. If (I keep playing like this) it's not growing back."

The Ducks will travel across Los Angeles for their next game, this one against the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins are in their first season under former Pittsburgh Head Coach and Lebanon, Oregon native Ben Howland. Oregon and UCLA will face off at 2 p.m, on Sunday, Jan. 4th.

"The key thing is to get two games on this trip," Kent told OSN. "This team has an opportunity to be one of those special teams if they continue to (play) like this."


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