Brooks Leads Ducks To Win

The Duck men's basketball team has had a number of leaders in each of their games so far this season. For Fresno State, it was the freshmen; for Vanderbilt, Jordan Kent's effort off the bench sparked the team; against Portland, Malik Hairston poured in 20 to lead the team. Tonight, Aaron Brooks shot the lights out, and along with Maarty Leunen, led the Ducks to a 90-83 win over USC.

Brooks, the sophomore point guard from Seattle, hit key shots just when Oregon (9-1, 1-0) needed them on his way to a career high 34 points. He was 9-13 from the floor, 4-7 from beyond the arc and hit 12 of his 13 shots at the charity stripe.

"It was a real quiet 34," Brooks said. "It came through the offense."

His coach agreed.

"That ranks up there with the best (point guard games) that I've seen (at Oregon)," Head Coach Ernie Kent said. "I couldn't have even guessed he had 34 points, which tells me he did it totally within the system.

One ‘in the system' play came with just 2:11 left in the game and the Ducks down one. Oregon's Jordan Kent took the ball down the right baseline, sucking USC defenders in on him. As he drove, Kent turned and saw Brooks standing right behind him.

"I thought Jordan was going to dunk that ball but he kicked it back out to me and I was open," Brooks said.

Brooks nailed the three and gave the Ducks the lead for good at 82-80.

"When Aaron hit the three and the crowd came alive, that turned the game right there," Ernie Kent said.

The second half wasn't as easy as that play looked however.

The Trojans (7-5, 0-1) battled back from a 10 point second half deficit to turn it into a back and forth contest midway through the final period. With 4:20 left and Oregon playing fairly sloppy, Lodrick Stewart hit one of his five three pointers on the night to put the Trojans up three.

From there, the Ducks started to look even sloppier. All their shots were coming with the shot clock ticking down and they didn't look to be in a flow. That all changed when Maarty Leunen started to front Gregg Guenther on the defensive end. A lob pass was thrown and it went right to the freshman from Redmond.

"I think they were trying to take advantage of me because he's way bigger than me," Leunen said. "I just worked hard to try and get in front and they just happened to throw the ball right to me."

Down at the other end, it was Leunen who was fouled going to the hoop and nailed his pair of free throws to bring the Ducks to within one.

"Maarty Leunen, for a freshman, did everything right," Ernie Kent said. Leunen finished with 13 points and five boards in 22 minutes off the bench.

On USC's next offensive possession, Leunen did it again. Another poor USC lob pass to Guenther was picked off by Leunen, leading to Jordan Kent's drive and dish to Brooks for the three.

In the final 4:20, the Ducks held USC to three points, a three pointer with nine seconds left by Lodrick Stewart.

"We wanted to buckle down defensively and get stops," Oregon's Bryce Taylor said. Taylor finished with 18 points, 14 of which were in the first half.

Although the Trojans shot better than 54 percent, when the Ducks needed those stops, they got them.

The game finished with a Duck parade to the free throw line where they went 25-28 on the night, an 89 percent mark in an area where the Ducks had been struggling. Oregon came in to the game shooting only 65 percent from the line.

Oregon didn't just shoot well from the foul line, though; they found their touch from all over the floor, shooting field goals at a 56 percent clip. The Ducks also hit 55 percent of their shots from long range.

Although the team shared the ball well and it took every member of the squad to get the win tonight, this was Aaron Brooks' night, something that Jim Saia, USC's Interim Head Coach made note of.

"I recruited him at UCLA," Saia said. "He was my number one point guard. I told him that he got me tonight. He didn't come to UCLA and then he buries 34 on me in my first Pac-10 game…But Aaron's a great kid and a great player. He's a big time winner."

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