Oh So Close, The Sequel

After battling hard all game long, Oregon came within just a couple of buckets of knocking the Pac-10 Regular Season Champion Stanford Cardinal out of the Pac-10 Tournament. They gave the kind of tremendous effort expected out of an Ernie Kent coached team but, the Cardinal were just too good down the stretch and pulled out a 70-63 win in the second round of the tourney. <br><br> Luke Jackson #33 goes up for a shot against Stanford's Nick Robinson #21.(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

When a team commits seven fouls in the second half prior to the 15 minute mark, most basketball fans would expect the other team to start going to the hoop, posting players up, or doing anything else to draw a foul. Oregon had Stanford in just that situation on Friday, but only shot five free throws in the following nine minutes and many more three pointers.

The Ducks were content to stay outside and cast up treys that didn't fall (they shot only 33 percent for the game) and weren't able to work the foul line where they are oh so good.

Oregon was finally able to get to the foul line twice in a row with just over five minutes left in the game. Senior Luke Jackson and sophomore Ian Crosswhite both hit a pair of free throws that actually brought Oregon to within two points.

On the next Oregon possession, James Davis hit a three from the deck of the Queen Mary in Long Beach to give Oregon a one point lead. A Rob Little hook shot put Stanford back in the lead, but Oregon's freshman phenom, Aaron Brooks fired right back and drilled a three of his own to put Oregon up a pair. It would be the last lead for the men in green.

The turning point in the final few minutes came right after a Matt Lottich missed three try followed a Mitch Platt lay-up. The game was tied and Oregon had the ball with about two and a half minutes to go in the game. Jackson, who finished with twelve points, spotted up for a three on the right wing. With the way it was going for the Ducks, there was a feeling that it just might go in, but it never had the chance. Lottich came from out of nowhere to swat Jackson's shot away. He sprinted down the floor and got a fast break lay-up and a foul to put Stanford up for good.

"From a coaching standpoint, there is no way we should not be anything but proud of the way we played today," Oregon assistant coach Scott Duncan told OSN.

Oregon did do a lot of things today that most teams would be proud of. First, they out-rebounded the Cardinal 38-34 and held them to only a half dozen offensive boards. Jackson, Platt and Andre Joseph all had six rebounds.

The Ducks also played tremendous defense, continuing the trend set in the previous three games. They kept Stanford from running away with the game when they had a number of chances to do that.

Stanford simply was too talented for the Ducks today. With guys like Pac-10 Player of the Year, Josh Childress, Lottich and Little leading the way, they became very tough to deal with. Childress finished with 18 points and six boards.

"They are, by far, the clear cut number one team in the country," Duncan told OSN.

Oregon, on the other hand, found yet another solid effort out of Andre Joseph. The senior from Houston, Texas led the Ducks with 16 points in 34 minutes.

"He has been our most consistent player from start to finish all year long," Duncan told OSN.

One of the places where Oregon did not do as well tonight as they would have liked was the ball movement. There were many occasions, especially down the stretch, where Oregon became stagnant on offense. Only nine assists on 21 baskets speaks to that. It was that stagnant offense that kept the Ducks from getting those crucial free throws when Stanford was in the penalty.

The season probably isn't over for Oregon though as many basketball experts expect the NIT to come calling on Sunday. Oregon expects to be selected for the tournament late Sunday night after the NCAA selects its field of 65 teams to participate in the Big Dance.

"We'll have an opportunity to be in the post season so we're going to be fine," James Davis told OSN.

Duncan was excited about the opportunity to get at least one more game, and hopefully more, in this season.

"As a college athlete, any time you can wear that uniform one more time, it is special," he told OSN.


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