Ducks' Defense Batters Bengals

After having to battle to beat a tough Western Oregon team in their final exhibition game, the Oregon Ducks got just what they needed tonight: a blowout win. The Idaho State Bengals were no match for the Ducks who shut them down with great defense along with spreading the ball and the minutes in their 77-51 win.

Defense was the name of the game for the Ducks tonight as they held Idaho State to 35 percent shooting in the game, 15 points in the first half and forced 17 turnovers. From the outset, the Bengals could do nothing against the Duck D.

"For a first game I was extremely pleased with our defensive effort," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent said.

The defense was spectacular in the first half. Idaho State finished the period with only five made field goals mostly due to Oregon's unstoppable man-to-man defense. Even when the shots weren't falling for the Ducks, the D held true.

Fifty-one points is the lowest mark allowed in a season opener for the Ducks since the 1982-83 season when a team featuring Blair Rasmussen, Jerry Adams and David Brantley, among others, beat UC-San Diego 63-46.

Rebounding was also huge tonight as the Ducks held a 50-25 advantage at game's end. It was another focus this week in practice. The Ducks even went so far as to set rebounding goals for each player.

"The goals were set today in practice where we gave guys a number and some guys set their own number," Kent said. "With that system in place and getting 50 rebounds in the game, I think they responded well to the challenge we put in front of them to get their numbers. We monitored it at every time out and sometimes even up and down the floor calling out their numbers as to where they're at."

This was Oregon's first 50 rebound game since grabbing 54 boards in an 88-64 win over Pepperdine in the 2001-02 season.

When a team is rebounding the ball and playing defense, things tend to go well even when the offense isn't perfect, as was the case tonight.

The Ducks went only 29-66 from the floor and didn't see any players get up over 15 points but it didn't matter. They moved the ball very well and found the open man.

"Coach emphasized the extra pass," said Oregon's Aaron Brooks, who finished with 15 points and eight assists.

The Ducks got into some trouble offensively when the Bengals went to a 2-3 zone. Oregon would move the ball around the perimeter but couldn't get that quick, open shot.

One time during such a play, the Ducks found guard Malik Hairston open on the left wing for a jumper. He missed but flying in from the right side was Brandon Lincoln who threw down a powerful dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

Lincoln finished with seven points and played well off the bench. The former Jefferson High School star started the two exhibition games but Kent went with freshman Bryce Taylor tonight.

"Bryce was excited," Hairston, who finished with 15 points, said. "I talked to Bryce before the game and told him to let the game come to him. It's a long game in college basketball so he shouldn't panic if he didn't get the best start."

Although he did start a little slow, Taylor had a big second half. He finished the night with 11 points and went 3-6 from long range.

"The boy can shoot the ball," Hairston said.

Not only did the Ducks finish with four players in double figures scoring but 10 of the 13 guys on the floor tonight finished with over 10 minutes, something that Kent said was inspired by an NBA team.

"I saw the Utah Jazz had ten guys getting double digit minutes," Kent said. "That just comes back to chemistry and guys allowing themselves to play a role and play a position."

Along with that, Kent was happy with the substitution pattern tonight.

"When a guy got tired another guy went out there and I don't think we missed a beat," he said.

Next for the Ducks is Ritchie McKay's New Mexico squad on Monday. The Lobos are a team that can really shoot the ball. Against Santa Clara, the second game of their season, they hit 20 three pointers and won 93-59.

"That's going to be a great, great ballgame," Kent said.

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