The Power of The Pit Prevails

In a knockdown, drag 'em out rumble at historic Mac Court, the two potentially biggest surprises of the PAC-10 season battled for bragging rights. When the final bell tolled, it was the Ducks of Eugene standing alone in the middle of the ring winning 76-72 over the Cal Bears on all cards.

Despite being statistically dominated by the California Golden Bears, the Oregon Ducks won the old fashioned way, by grinding out a clutch victory. Free throw shooting, and key offensive rebounds down the stretch were big for the Ducks. An increase in defensive intensity also allowed Oregon to close Cal's six-point lead in the closing minutes of the game.

"We focused in down the stretch and got some stops, and then scored on those," Oregon guard Freddie Jones told OSN after the game.

Cal was led by their front court tandem of Joe Shipp and Amit Tamir. Shipp scored 24 points on 9-13 shooting, including two explosive dunks that silenced the Oregon crowd. Tamir showed good range for a big man going 3-4 from beyond the arc and scoring 19 points. The rest of the Golden Bears wound up in the scorebook, but nobody else was in double figures.

Jones led the way for the Ducks down the stretch, and wound up with 22 points and nine rebounds in the effort.

"We did a good job of shooting free throws," said Kent, "and on a couple of occasions Freddie was huge going up and getting rebounds."

Another key for the Ducks was guard Anthony Lever who made a number of big shots in the second half. Lever had 12 points on the night. Also in double figures for the Ducks were Luke Ridnour and Chris Christoffersen both with 11. Robert Johnson ended up with 10 points.

This game was a true test for the Ducks, who showed their savvy under pressure even when shots were not falling, something that Coach Ernie Kent was proud of.

"We pulled this out because of the four losses, and we were mentally tougher (than Cal)," said Kent.

In addition to their mental toughness, Oregon undoubtedly played off the crowd, with Kent acting as the head cheerleader and playing to the crowd during Oregon's final run.

Oregon's win ties them with UCLA for second place in the PAC-10 at 4-1 in conference play and 11-4 overall. #11 Stanford comes to town Saturday afternoon, a game Ernie Kent is already preparing for.

"We need to go beat Stanford," said Kent. "All focus will be on that come 11:00 tonight for me."

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