Ducks Drown Commodores

It would have been easy for the Oregon men to look past Vanderbilt. Not that the Commodores aren't good, because they went to the Sweet Sixteen last year, but Oregon has a game next Saturday against No. 5 Illinois. Many teams would have looked ahead to the nationally televised match up. Oregon didn't. The Ducks stayed focused, and despite 18 turnovers, walked away with a 75-65 win in the Papé Jam.

"We can't overlook anybody," Oregon's Jordan Kent said. "We can't afford to."

Oregon won by a good-sized margin but Vandy's tough defense kept them going early and it looked like this would be a tight one. The Commodores actually held the lead at 25-21 after a Mario Moore three pointer with 8:20 to go in the half.

Oregon was sloppy to that point and had committed a lot of turnovers. They finished the first half with 14 miscues.

"They physically manhandled our guards during the first five or six minutes," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent said, referring to Vandy's physical defense that caused a number of turnovers.

No Duck but Ian Crosswhite had it going early on. Crosswhite, the game's MVP finished with eight of his 16 points in the first half. He was a spark plug in the frame, grabbing boards, getting on the floor and playing tough defense.

Brandon Lincoln also came off the bench for all of his ten points in the first half, including an ‘and one' three pointer.

Another spark plug for the Ducks was one big-time block. Just over four minutes into the first half, there was a turnover right in front of Aaron Brooks. Vandy's Moore had the ball and was going in on a one-on-none lay-up. Brooks chased him down, reminiscent of Ronnie Lee, rose up and swatted the ball off the backboard. The Rose Garden crowd of 12,114 came to its feet.

"I've been watching Dikembe Mutombo," Brooks said.

The play was very similar to something Jordan Kent experienced last week in practice.

"He had a huge one on me in practice the other day, as long as he's blocking other people in games, then that's fine with me," he said. "I picked the ball at half court and decided to not go up hard at all and he swatted it."

Brooks also had another block on Moore in the second half, giving him a new career high of two.

The first block came shortly after Moore had drilled a three pointer. He was ready to go off and the block may have rattled him.

"I think that bothered him for a little bit," Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said.

Moore finished 4-18 from the floor and 3-11 from beyond the arc. Prior to this game he was shooting over 53 percent from the floor and over 54 from long range.

In the second half, Vanderbilt took the lead again in the early going. Dawid Przybyszewski drove right down the lane for an easy lay up and the Commodores led 39-38.

The Ducks quickly put together some buckets. Malik Hairston drove and scored on a double-clutch lay up. Kenny Love nailed a three. Then, with 14:28 left, Ian Crosswhite scored off of a beautiful pass from Hairston to give the Ducks the lead for good, 46-44.

Although Hairston didn't shoot the ball particularly well, he finished with eight assists and five boards.

"There are a lot of scorers on this basketball team," Hairston said. "I gave it to them and they finished."

His coach was pleased with the performance.

"He had a bad shooting night but I felt like, at times, he dominated the game," Kent said.

After the Ducks took the lead, they slowed the game down. They went to a zone and became very deliberate in their offensive flow.

Oregon was able to hold Vandy at a distance, and once when they cut the Duck lead to seven, the Webfoots put together a run. First a transition play sent the ball ‘Bingo Bango Bongo' from Crosswhite to Hairston to Jordan Kent for a high-flying two-handed dunk. On the next possession, Bryce Taylor took his man baseline and glided in for a lay up. Then, to cap it off, Kent nailed a coffin-corner three pointer to put the Ducks back up 14 and kill the Vanderbilt momentum.

"My confidence is gaining more and more each week," the younger Kent said. He finished with nine points on 4-5 shooting.

Oregon will need that confidence as they travel to Chicago, after a week of finals, for a match-up with Illinois on Saturday in the United Center.

"We need to focus on Oregon," Hairston said. "If we do what Oregon does, I think we'll be pretty successful, no matter who we play."

The game will be nationally televised on ESPN at 11 a.m. It will be Oregon's first national TV appearance this year.

"Hopefully, if we can play our smartest game of the year and run the ball the way Oregon does, then things will take care of themselves," Jordan Kent said.

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