Outright Champions

The #13 University of Oregon Ducks won the outright PAC-10 basketball championship on Saturday in Los Angeles, beating the UCLA Bruins 65-62 in an arena the Ducks have not won at since 1984.

Despite a hot start, which led fans to believe that Oregon may run away with their final regular season PAC-10 game of the year, it came down to the final thirteen seconds of the game for Oregon to pull out the win. Leading by only one, it took a 15 foot runner by PAC-10 Player of the Year Candidate Freddie Jones to put the Ducks up three and seal the win.

In addition to sealing the win, Jones led the charge for Oregon with 22 points. Guard Luke Ridnour was also in double figures with 14. Reserve Anthony Lever also added eight points off the bench, all of them in the first half. Robert Johnson once again had a solid night on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds.

UCLA's Dan Gadzuric led the Bruins with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Matt Barnes also had 10 points for UCLA.

"The game plan was to make UCLA bored," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent told OSN in a post game interview. "We wanted to keep them out of transition. We stayed right with our guy on the perimeter. Let Gadzuric beat us. It would take Kapono, Barnes and Knight out of their rhythm."

UCLA was 13-19 from the free throw line in the game, but when it counted they were only 2-5 in the final 6:19. Two of those misses came from Gadzuric, the other from former NBA star Terry Cummings' son T.J. who was only 1-4 from the field and 0-1 from the line in the game.

For PAC-10 Tournament seeding purposes, this game hurt UCLA as they slipped all the way to 6th and will face a hot Arizona team in the first round. The Bruins finish the regular season with an 11-7 conference record and 19-10 overall.

Saturday's win gives the Ducks a #1 seed in the PAC-10 Tournament, and a first round match-up with their rival to the North, Washington. Oregon finishes the season with a 14-4 conference record, tying the school's all time record for conference wins. The last time Oregon finished with 14 conference wins was 1938-39 when Coach Howard Hobson led the Tall Firs to a National Championship.

The Ducks' 22-7 overall record has led many to speculate about where they will be placed in the NCAA Tournament, and Kent believes that the Ducks will wind up close to home.

"(This game) had an unbelievable ripple effect," Kent said. "My talk in the locker room before the game was about the parents and how if we win the parents don't have to shell out the money to watch them play in the East."

Kent however, was even more excited about the PAC-10 Championship, Oregon's first since 1957.

"Sole possession," Kent told OSN with emphasis.

Stats from www.goducks.com.


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