Illini Beat Ducks With Ease

There's a reason that Illinois is the No. 1 team in the country. There's also a reason that no team has been closer than 12 points in any of Illinois' eight wins prior to their game against the Oregon men on Saturday. Oregon didn't do any better as the high performance Illini beat the Ducks 83-66 in the United Center in Chicago.

"They deserve that ranking," Oregon coach Ernie Kent told OSN. "It's their sixth game in 14 days and they didn't miss a beat."

Illinois completely dominated the Ducks in all aspects of the game. Oregon (4-1) struggled to get anything going offensively with most of their shots coming from the outside. The Men of Oregon went just 8-21 on long balls.

It was nearly impossible for the Webfoots to get a shot from the block or even penetrate. Oregon's top scoring big men were Ian Crosswhite and Ray Schafer with four points each. The Ducks simply couldn't do anything in the lane as the Illini defense would quickly collapse and force turnovers.

The turnovers hampered the Ducks all game long. Even when the Duck defense would string together a few stops, turnovers would keep them from taking any momentum. Oregon had 15 turnovers in the game, six of which were by point guard Aaron Brooks. It wasn't so much the number of turnovers, though, but the times at which they came. Kent said it seemed like the Ducks would cut the Illinois lead and then there would be a turnover.

"The turnovers led to easy transition points for them," he told OSN.

Illinois (9-0) was also nearly impossible to stop as five Illini players finished in double figures. Luther Head led all scorers with 23 points on 8-10 shooting in 32 minutes. Oregon tried both man-to-man and a zone but neither worked. Illinois was just too hot and the Ducks never had a chance to catch their breath against the hard running Illini.

"Not only do they have great talent but they remind me of the Stanford teams where on every possession they work (hard)," Kent told OSN.

The Illini went 29-50 from the floor, a 58 percent mark. They scored inside, outside and everywhere in between.

Bryce Taylor led the Ducks with 19 points in 27 minutes and was one of the few bright points for the team. He nailed a number of tough threes and continued to work all game long.

"Bryce Taylor got better as the game went on," Kent told OSN.

Malik Hairston also added 14 points and nine boards.

The Ducks were not helped, however, by rough games for most of the rest of the team, especially Crosswhite and Brooks. The big man from Australia looked out of place and never really was in the flow of the game. Brooks struggled passing the ball and never found his stroke.

"We're not going to win a whole lot of ballgames when those guys don't play well," Kent told OSN about Brooks and Crosswhite.

Oregon has four more games until Pac-10 play, one of which is against Fresno State. Next up, however, will be Bethune Cookman on Tuesday.

"Our challenge right now is to not lose another game between now and Pac-10 play," Kent told OSN.

The Bethune Cookman Wildcats are 3-2 but lost all five starters from last year's team. Their game against Oregon will be part of a western swing that includes games at Oregon State and Portland State.

Oregon has their sights set far beyond these non-conference games however.

"If this team stays together, they don't have to wait until next year (to be great)," Kent told OSN. "Illinois gave us a great blueprint of what a championship team looks like. We're going to take this as a learning experience and build on this for this year."

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