The Jordan (And Aaron) Rules

All great teams find sparks off the bench. Players like Vinnie Johnson, John Starks and Detlef Schrempf all did it in the NBA. Tonight the Ducks found their spark in Jordan Kent. The sophomore guard never scored in double figures before tonight but was the catalyst in helping Oregon past New Mexico, 79-75.

Kent's 14 points on 6-8 shooting in 20 minutes got the Ducks (2-0) going when they needed it the most. It's rare when you can say every basket a player scored was vital, but that's how it was for Kent tonight.

"Jordan Kent gave them great minutes today," New Mexico Coach Ritchie McKay said.

After the Lobos (4-1) got out to a 26-21 lead in the first half, Kent scrapped for his first hoop of the game, cutting the lead. Moments later, after a David Chiotti hook shot put New Mexico up six again, Kent came right down and drilled a long ball from the left wing.

Oregon Coach Ernie Kent, Jordan's father, explained that the younger Kent had put in some extra work just prior to this game.

"He was in the gym late last night and early this morning," he said.

In the second half, after Oregon's lead was cut to just two points with 16:00 left, Kent drove baseline on his defender and scored to put Oregon back up four and to maintain momentum.

With 12:14 left in this back and forth game, Alfred Neale nailed a three ball from the top of the key to cut Oregon's lead to six at 61-55. Down the floor came the Ducks and a play was called for Kent.

"We have a play called 21 Rip where you isolate the wing and let him go to work," Kent said. "Usually you rip it to the baseline but the middle just opened up this time. I put a move on him and he bit on it more than I thought he would. It just kind of opened up really big and I had to make the most of it."

Make the most of it he did. Kent threw down a gliding, powerful jam as Mac Court erupted.

"It really surprised me," Oregon guard Aaron Brooks said laughing. "I didn't even know he could dunk."

Brooks had a great game in his own right, leading the team in points, rebounds and assists while setting or tying career highs in those three categories.

The sophomore point guard finished with 22 points, eight assists and six boards in 40 minutes of play. His previous career high in points was 17 in a loss at Stanford last season.

Brooks got the Ducks running tonight and never let up.

"He affects the game like Jason Kidd," McKay said. "His ability to get the ball from the free throw line to the other end compromises so many match ups."

But as the game wound down, different Ducks wound up contributing to the win. Brandon Lincoln and Malik Hairston hit big jumpers. Kent had a lay-up off of a Brooks pass in transition. Hairston hit two key free throws. New Mexico continued to battle but their relentlessness never phased the Ducks. Oregon answered every Lobo charge.

New Mexico actually led at the half, 43-41 and was shooting over 53 percent from the floor so the Ducks changed game plans and switched to a zone defense rather than man-to-man.

"We wanted to take the inside game away and the zone allowed us to take the inside game away and basically make them a one dimensional team," Ernie Kent said.

Danny Granger, the star Lobo forward was killing the Ducks in the first half and finished with 19 points, many of them coming inside. Oregon had to stop that and they hoped the zone was the answer.

It was. New Mexico shot just under 26 percent from the floor in the second half and made only eight field goals.

"The zone forced them to shoot in Mac Court," Brooks said. "It's hard to shoot when you've got 8,000 fans yelling at you."

Oregon, on the other hand, shot the ball at a 50 percent clip for the game and 38 percent from downtown. They also found scoring in many places yet again. Three other players, outside of Brooks and Kent, scored in double figures: Ian Crosswhite with 12, Hairston with 11 and Bryce Taylor with 11.

The consensus seemed that this win will prove very important for the Ducks in the future.

"This is a good win that's going to show up down the road because they are going to beat some people," Ernie Kent said.

Before the Ducks get too far down the road they have to travel to West Virginia to face the Marshall Thundering Herd on Saturday in a rematch of last year's Papé Jam.

"This is where these young guys need to get the experience," Jordan Kent said. "These road games are brutal."

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