Nearly Thrown Away

After struggling against Washington State all day long, the Oregon men's basketball team behind a huge effort from Bryce Taylor, who scored nearly half of Oregon's points, finally took the lead 53-52 with under 30 seconds left but on the ensuing possession they nearly lost it all.

With Wazzu freshman Jeff Akognon at the line for a one and one opportunity, the Cougars didn't put any rebounders on the lane for the first free throw.

Akognon bent his knees, sent the ball towards the rim and it rimmed off. Oregon's Ian Crosswhite grabbed the rebound and sent a bounce pass hurtling out of bounds, as though it was a two shot foul. Alertly Aaron Brooks saved the ball and allowed Oregon to hold onto the win that they nearly lost many, many times.

"If he throws it away he walks home to Eugene," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent told OSN. "You can't make mistakes like that."

After the Brooks save, eventually the ball went to freshman Maarty Leunen who nailed a pair of free throws to ice the game, 55-52. The freshmen on the whole were the reason that the Ducks won today's sloppy contest.

Freshman Bryce Taylor was the best of them all. The guard had 26 points off of 10-14 shooting, 6-8 from long range. He made shot after shot, and at the end of the first half, Taylor 16 points while the Ducks as a team had only 24. Taylor kept the Cougars from running away with this one in the first half.

"He was just unreal offensively," Kent told OSN.

While Taylor was going off, Malik Hairston was playing Scottie Pippen to Taylor's Michael Jordan. Hairston finished with 10 points and nailed a huge three and then a bank shot late in the game.

Leunen had only those two free throws late in the game but also grabbed four boards and had some key minutes.

While these guys were playing great basketball, the rest of the team was struggling. Junior Ian Crosswhite scored six points in 25 minutes and committed six of Oregon's 18 turnovers.

"I don't know what's going on upstairs but we need to get that straightened out," Kent told OSN of Crosswhite.

Sophomore Aaron Brooks did have five assists but also committed three turnovers and was only 2-8 from the floor on his way to five points. Ray Schafer, Brandon Lincoln and Chamberlain Oguchi were the only other Ducks to score, combining for six points.

The lack of help for Taylor was obvious early in the game. Washington State scored the game's first six points and if it wasn't for Taylor nailing a couple of threes and a big dunk, the Cougs could have opened up a much bigger lead.

Oregon took the lead on a Taylor dunk at 13-11 with 8:09 left in the first half. It was a Duck lead or tie until, after two Crosswhite free throws with under three minutes left, Jeff Varem and Thomas Kelati scored five straight points and the Cougs led 24-21.

The Ducks didn't see another lead until Aaron Brooks' drive, score and free throw put them up 53-52 with under a minute to play in the game.

Although the Webfoots didn't look good in either game on this road trip, they did get a split, something they desperately needed.

"It was important to go home with a winning record and momentum…so it was a must-win ballgame," Kent told OSN. "Hopefully this is the thing to get us going and over the hump."

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