Ducks Move Towards Top 25 and 1st Place

With Oregon playing its biggest game in recent memory it came down to a clutch Luke Jackson jumper with 38 seconds left that put the Ducks up 71-69 all but ending USC's chances of a Mac Court victory. Oregon added two free throws and pulled out the win 73-69 over #23 USC.

Being forced to play a style of basketball they are unaccustomed to at home, the Ducks showed great poise executing in the half court. Luke Ridnour, Freddie Jones and Luke Jackson supplied the majority of the offense in a game where Oregon managed to shoot a mere 44.8% from the field. Ridnour, Jones and Jackson had 15, 14 and 13 points respectively.

USC was propelled by a stellar performance by big man Sam Clancy. Clancy scored 25 points on 9-17 shooting many of which came down the stretch silencing the thunderous Mac Court crowd. Guard Brandon Granville was the only other Trojan player in double figures with 17 points.

Making up for its lackluster performance on the offensive end, Oregon stepped up the defense especially in the last few minutes of the game. The team's catalyst was the trio of Chris Christoffersen, Robert Johnson and Brian Helquist who were delegated to the daunting task of slowing down Sam Clancy. USC failed to get the ball to their go-to-man in the last few possessions due to on ball pressure, weak side help and post fronting from The Big Three.

Oregon again out rebounded their opponent, this time 38-37. Freddie Jones grabbed nine and Robert Johnson had seven for the Ducks. Sam Clancy added 11 for the Trojans.

For the second game in a row, Oregon showed that it is more than just a fast break team. This game featured 14 lead changes none of which occurred in the open floor as there were no fast break points. Sophomore guard Luke Ridnour was solid in the half court, showing composure under pressure.

"You can look out there and see Cool Hand Luke smiling and know what kind of a special player he is," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent told OSN after the game.

Hosting its fourth capacity crowd of the season, Mac Court proved once again to be Oregon's 6th man. Coming down the stretch it was quite apparent that the Ducks fed off of the crowd's energy and USC failed to score doing nothing more than fueling the fans' fire. In the Trojans' crucial last few possessions, the hoop became a moving target due to the bouncing fans surrounding the floor.

"It gives you the chills when you hear this crowd going crazy. They helped us pull through," Luke Ridnour said.

Oregon takes sole possession of first place in the PAC-10 with today's win. The Ducks are now 9-2 in conference play, 17-5 overall. USC falls one game behind Oregon at 8-3, 16-5 overall. Oregon's ability will be tested to the greatest degree when Oregon takes to the road next week to play the Bay Area schools.

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