Ducks Bump Off George Mason

After watching the other three remaining Pac-10 teams fall in postseason play this past week, Oregon did not want to take the conference out of tournament play all together. The Ducks left no doubt in tonight's win over George Mason in the second round of the NIT. <br><br> (PHOTO LEFT) Oregon's Luke Jackson (33) and Andre Joseph (35) celebrate Jackson's slam dunk as George Mason's Lamar Butler (22) looks on during their NIT second-round game. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)

Oregon rebounded, shared the ball and shot their way to a 68-54 win in the 1,000th game at Mac Court and the final outing for four seniors at home.

Playing an opponent that very few Duck fans knew anything about, Oregon let their opponent from the Colonial Athletic Association control the flow of the game early. The Patriots actually led the game at 7-2 after a Mark Davis jumper in the lane with just under 17 minutes to play in the opening frame.

After a timeout Oregon quickly took control of the game both offensively and defensively. George Mason hung around until a tremendous four and a half minute stretch where the Ducks played great offense and defense. A 16-2 Duck run capped by an Andre Joseph trey with just over two minutes to play left the home team up by 13 points and in complete control of the momentum, the tempo and thus the game.

The turning point of the game could have been just prior to that on an unbelievable alley-oop dunk from Joseph to Duck senior Luke Jackson with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half. Joseph came flying down the court with a GMU defender near him. He made momentary eye contact with Jackson and then flipped a pass up over his head for Jackson who went way up in the air, caught it and threw it down. The dunk brought Mac Court to its feet and George Mason looked out of it right then and there.

"I was praying that we were on the same page because Coach Kent would have gotten pretty mad on that one," Joseph said.

Joseph wound up being the big play guy for the Ducks tonight. He finished with a career high of 22 points after never scoring more than 19 for his entire Duck career.

"Man, I was stuck on 19 forever," he said.

The senior from Houston, Texas also led the team with seven boards while he went 8-13 from the floor and 5-9 from long range.

"My teammates found me for a lot of open shots and tonight was the night when I knocked them down," he said.

After grabbing the lead and holding onto it through halftime, it was just up to the Ducks to keep George Mason from climbing back into the game. Oregon did just that. The Patriots never got closer than 12 points.

"We did a good job of getting the lead early which made it a little more comfortable against their pressure down the stretch," Oregon's Jackson said.

George Mason simply struggled getting anything going offensively tonight. As a team, the Patriots shot 31 percent from the field and only 20 percent from three. They also had only one player in double figures, Terry Reynolds with 14 points but on 4-15 shooting.

It was also a struggle for George Mason to score from the charity stripe where they shot only 60 percent. Nothing went right for them offensively.

"They defended us very, very well," George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga said.

Oregon also focused their defense on George Mason's Jai Lewis. The sophomore forward entered the game averaging 14.6 points per game on nearly 60 percent shooting. The Duck defense held Lewis to only nine points on 3-6 shooting.

"We knew he would score points, we just wanted to limit them," Oregon's Ian Crosswhite said of Lewis.

As has been the case all season long, the Ducks won another game when they moved the ball very well. Oregon finished with 18 assists on their 25 field goals. Jackson led the squad with five of them.

"When guys are giving up the ball, we're a tough team to guard," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent said.

The Ducks also got a much needed contribution from Adam Zahn, James Davis, Jay Anderson and the rest of the bench. Zahn was most productive of them all, scoring seven points and grabbing five boards in 17 minutes.

Oregon's bench play kept everyone but Jackson and Joseph from having to play 30 minutes or more. Jackson played 33 and Joseph played 31.

"Adam Zahn came in and played really well," Jackson said.

The next game for the Ducks will come in under 48 hours. Oregon will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Chris Thomas at 4:00 on Thursday. The game will be yet another test in this season full of them.

First though, Andre Joseph just wanted to enjoy his last game at Mac Court.

"It was a great way to go out at Mac Court," Joseph said. "I love this place. I'm going to tell my grandkids about it."

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