In The Zone

The 2-3 zone has become a calling card of sorts for this year's Ducks men's basketball team and tonight it shut down Oregon State's offense, leading to a 73-64 Oregon win.

"The zone, in my opinion, is our best defense," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent said. "This is the fifth or sixth game the zone has won for us."

Oregon (10-2, 2-1) went into the zone when they led 13-10 part way into the first half and stuck with it for much of the rest of the game. It kept the Beavs from getting a lot going inside and it also pressured the outside shooters. Sharp shooting tandem Chris Stephens and Jason Fontenet combined to go 2-12 from long range and 4-18 overall.

"We wanted to get out on the shooters and pressure them," Oregon guard Aaron Brooks said.

The Ducks also used the zone to help them crash the boards. Oregon out-rebounded Oregon State 44-20 and also hit the offensive boards hard, grabbing 18. Ian Crosswhite led the Ducks with nine boards, while Jordan Kent and Maarty Leunen each had seven.

After Oregon got into that zone, Oregon State (10-4, 2-1) was able to hang close only for a short time and then fell off. The Ducks took the lead for good after a pair of Kent free throws at 24-22 with 5:25 left in the first half, and their stingy defense only increased the margin.

In the second half, Brooks got hot and scored 15 of his game-high 24 points and when the Ducks needed a bucket, they could count on him. Oregon State cut the Duck lead to seven points with 5:00 to go in the game, but right back came Brooks. A lay-up and then a long range three put the Ducks up 12 and OSU was crushed.

"(Brooks) kept us off balance," Oregon State Head Coach Jay John said. "He's the marquee player in the league so you expect that."

This was Brooks' first taste of Civil War basketball, because of his injury last year, and he performed wonderfully. His 24 points came from 9-15 shooting from the floor and 3-5 from long range.

"From last week to this week he's greatly improved," Ernie Kent said.

The Ducks also got huge efforts from Jordan Kent, Leunen, and Crosswhite.

Kent finished with six points, including a two-handed slam on a fast break. He also had those seven rebounds and a pair of assists in 17 minutes off the bench.

Leunen showed again his nose for the ball. The freshman had five of his rebounds on the offensive glass and also added nine points.

Crosswhite also had a strong game. He scored 11 points, grabbed nine boards and swatted away a pair of shots. The junior also found himself on the floor a lot more than usual, diving after loose balls and making hustle plays.

"Rival games, what wins them is getting on the floor," Crosswhite said.

Oregon State, for their part, didn't have a horrible game. David Lucas finished with 15 points on 5-9 shooting and Nick DeWitz had 13 points on 5-9 from the floor. The rest of the team, though, didn't shoot quite so well. On the whole, OSU was just under 40 percent from the floor. A number that could very well be attributed to Oregon's zone.

"We've held quite a few teams under 40 percent and we did it again this ball game," Ernie Kent said.

The road gets tougher as the Ducks look to get their record to 11-2 overall and to maintain their spot atop the league. Next Thursday Oregon will play at Washington, a team that many predicted to win the Pac-10.

"Washington is a great team," Brooks said. "We're going to have to play them the same way (we played Oregon State): zone them, box out, rebound and run."


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