Apocalypse Now

It's the story of the season. When the Oregon Ducks needed a win or at least a good effort most, they came up with neither. Poor shooting, poor hustle and worse rebounding marked Oregon's 76-55 loss to the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto today.<br><br>(PHOTO LEFT) Oregon head coach Ernie Kent argues a referee's call in the second half of their 76-55 loss to Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2004 in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

After the Ducks(12-11, 7-9) took the floor for warm-ups, the Stanford 6th Man student section started chanting "NIT! NIT! NIT!" They may be wrong about that. Oregon showed little heart and less desire in the game and when a team is fighting for their post-season lives, that cannot happen.

So many things in this game felt like so many other games this season. Stanford (25-0, 16-0) jumped out to a 13-0 lead only to have the Ducks battle back and cut the lead to one at 13-12 with Aaron Brooks scoring eight points during the run. But as it seems to go for Oregon, something happened and they fell apart. The Cardinal controlled the Ducks for the rest of the half and actually the rest of the game.

Outside of the play of Brooks, the Ducks were lifeless. There were many occasions on the defensive end where Stanford's Josh Childress was simply allowed to drive around an Oregon defender's matador defense. Childress scorched the Ducks for 29 points.

The Duck defense also allowed many open shots from Cardinal players due to poor rotation. Because of this, Stanford shot over 56 percent from downtown. Oregon shot 33 percent from deep and only 30 percent overall.

Earlier in the season, when the Ducks needed a boost, they could look to James Davis, Andre Joseph or Luke Jackson to give them one. In this game they couldn't find a spark from any of them. Jackson did lead the team with 18 points but that was on 6-19 shooting. He took a number of rushed, hurried or ill-advised shots down the stretch. Joseph didn't score at all and Davis only had six points on a pair of long range bombs.

Oregon's big men didn't help things. Ian Crosswhite had only six points while playing very poor defense. His moments of success were coupled with rare moments of hustle. Mitch Platt didn't provide much more help. The freshman scored only two points and seemed lost on the floor. The other bigs (Matt Short, Adam Zahn and Jay Anderson) followed their lead and combined for four points.

Nothing worked for the Ducks on either end of the floor. Neither the offense nor the defense could get anything going. It was the total opposite from the last time these two teams played. Stanford looks as good as ever and Oregon looks like a totally different squad from a few weeks ago.

The Ducks desperately need to sweep the schools from southern California next weekend to keep hope alive for a berth in the National Invitational Tournament. Getting swept this weekend put even those hopes in jeopardy, so wins are needed, and in a hurry.

According to the Associated Press, the USC Trojans, Oregon's next opponent, will be without guard Errick Craven who will be serving a one game suspension. Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen said that Craven committed "an unsporting act towards an opposing player" in USC's game against California. Craven has been averaging 11.4 points per game in conference play.

Oregon and USC will face off at 5:30 on Thursday in Mac Court.

eDuck Top Stories