Strange Night At The Pit

It was a strange yet amazing game. This one was another classic Oregon vs. Arizona battle. In the game fans saw technical fouls on two coaches who rarely get them, 45 fouls, two players score over 35 points, a player seeing time in his first game since a trip to UCLA, one team shoot 80 percent from three in the first half and the same two coaches screaming at each other. After all that, it was the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats who came out on top, 100-87.

This was what would be expected from a game in this series…well, maybe not. But take away all the extras and this was an incredible college basketball game.

Oregon (12-8, 7-6) found the early going very tough. It was like an old Chevy truck trying to drive through waist deep mud. Oregon was sloppy and Arizona took advantage. The Wildcats went up 11 points with just over 11 minutes to go in the half and Oregon looked stymied.

"I thought the difference in the ballgame was our start to the game," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent said. "We were never able to get the momentum back."

Salim Stoudamire was on fire up to this point and he didn't cool off for the rest of the game. The junior guard from Lake Oswego High School finished the first half going 5-5 from long range. For the game, Stoudamire had 37 points and was 6-8 from deep. Stoudamire hit from any and everywhere.

"There were times where we were dead on him and he hit the basket," Kent said.

The game wasn't to the weird stage yet. That waited just a little longer, until the 8:10 mark.

Tonight's officiating was questionable at best. The crew was inconsistent and often called things on both teams that didn't appear to have happened. So, when Ernie Kent drew a technical with 8:10 to go in the half, it wasn't overly surprising, although it was only Kent's second technical in seven years at Oregon.

The teams went back and forth from there and the half closed with Arizona holding a 54-38 advantage. Arizona (16-7, 9-5) finished shooting 80 percent from long range and over 52 percent from the floor.

"We came out with so much emotion and didn't have a lot of composure," Oregon's Luke Jackson said.

The second half became the staging ground for another of Luke Jackson's classic games. In his final home game against Arizona, Jackson scored 27 of his career high 42 points in the final period. His 42 ranks as the second highest single game output in Oregon history. Greg Ballard scored 43 points against Oral Roberts in 1977. However, Jackson did tally the highest scoring game for a Duck at Mac Court.

Like Stoudamire, Jackson hit shots from all over. He was 14-21 overall and went 6-9 from three. He also grabbed ten boards and dropped four dimes in 38 minutes. Jackson's six threes give him 152 for his career, moving him into seventh all time just ahead of Freddie Jones, now of the Indiana Pacers.

"You witnessed a great performance by Salim (Stoudamire) and Luke Jackson," Kent said.

Jackson hadn't really gotten going yet when, with 15:21 to go in the game, Oregon guard Aaron Brooks saw his first action in ten games.

"I heard I was cleared right before the game," Brooks said. "I didn't think (Kent would) put me in at the end of the game."

Brooks immediately changed the energy of the team and the crowd. Although Brandon Lincoln was having a good game at the point, Brooks was a much needed change of pace. Arizona couldn't press when he was in there and his court vision allowed him to often find open players. The freshman finished with two points and three assists in 12 minutes.

It wasn't more than a minute later when the game took its weirdest turn of the night. After a call that went against Arizona, Wildcats Coach Lute Olson made a covering his eyes gesture at the officials. When an official gave Olson a technical, the Arizona coach went Bobby Knight.

Olson stormed down the court ranting and raving, only to be stopped by an assistant coach and Stoudamire. That wasn't the end of it though. Something got Olson even madder and he turned and yelled at Kent. Olson then started moving toward Kent still screaming. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and both coaches returned to their benches to the chant of "Kick Lute Out" from the Oregon faithful.

"I think Coach Olson was trying to make a statement," Jackson said. "Any other coach in our conference would have been thrown out. I can't believe he didn't get thrown out. It just shows you how much both teams wanted this game."

From there, Jackson did what he could, but Oregon was never able to cut the Arizona lead to anything less than seven.

"We couldn't get over the hump," Brooks said.

When Oregon would hit a basket, Arizona would come right back and get a free throw, jumper or a dunk.

"It seemed like every time (Oregon) made a run at us, we stopped them," Olson said.

Ian Crosswhite was the only scoring help for the Ducks outside of Jackson. The sophomore had 15 points on 6-7 shooting. He also had seven turnovers.

This game was a team win for Arizona even with the spectacular play of Stoudamire. Hassan Adams added 26 points and 14 boards and Channing Frye and Andre Iguodala had 14 and 12 points respectively.

Arizona also out-rebounded the Ducks 39-30. Frye added eight boards and Iguodala had seven. The Ducks only got four total boards out of their bigs, Crosswhite and Mitch Platt.

"All the guys on the team really came together," Arizona's Chris Rodgers said.

The Cats were always able to find an open player or work their way open for a shot. Oregon had a tough time stopping the very athletic team from Tucson.

"They are a tough team to shut down with all those weapons on the floor," Kent said.

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