Ducks Make It 4-0

The Oregon Ducks improved their season record to 4-0 with an 84-60 win over Rice. Oregon closed out a 4-game home stand and will take on Vanderbilt in Nashville (Tenn.) next Wednesday, Nov. 30th. Five Ducks scored in double-figures led by Chamberlain Oguchi and Malik Hairston, both with 14. Maarty Leunen had 13 rebounds.

(PHOTO) Rice's J.R. Harrison, left, and Patrick Britton, right, battle Oregon's Maarty Leunen, center, for a loose ball during the first half in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

"This game was a chance to put these four games to rest and the next step for us it put this show on the road." Oregon's head coach Ernie Kent told the Oregon Sports Network in a post-game interview streamed live on Ozone.

Aaron Brooks had 13 points, 7 assists, while Bryce Taylor chipped in 11 and Ivan Johnson, coming in off the bench had 10.

The Ducks took an early lead and for the most part cruised along. Kent thought that the team relaxed a bit but he also pointed out that Oregon is putting a lot of bodies on the floor and could account for some of the rhythm being a bit out of synch. Despite turning the ball over 15 times, the Ducks did manage to spread the ball around and that has been a characteristic of the 2005-06 in the first four games and during practice.

"I think sometimes we pass up shots on the floor, " observed Kent. "That's ok right now, because one of the things this team needs to do is that it has a lot of weapons."

One of the key components of the high scoring Ducks is the ability of Brooks to spread the ball around. Kent likens a NBA player possessing the same qualities that the Oregon coaching staff would like Brooks to strive for.

"We certainly have told him particularly in the transition game his job is to get these scorers the basketball because there are a lot of guys on this team that can score," related Kent of Aaron Brooks' role. "If he can find those people and get them the ball, kind of like a Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns) type of player, he (Brooks) can really make us good that way."

Leunan, according to Kent played ferociously and unselfishly. At times, the big forward passed up shots that the coaching staff would like him to take. Kent is happy though with the fact that Leunen has been so aggressive in his play.

"He's like a mad man, he goes to the boards every time," said Kent of Leunen. "He's around the ball all the time, and that's a great credit to have in our program, somebody that can rebound like that."

Johnson, whom Kent describes as the team's best big man is still coming off the bench but that may not be for long. As soon as Johnson grasps the total package of what it means to be playing at the Pac-10 level, he will be starting. Kent thinks that the total package not only includes playing basketball but also the academics off the court that goes along with being in school

"Right now he just needs to understand everything that goes in being here because when he does that he's going to demand more minutes," Kent said of Johnson. "If Ivan Johnson plays 25-minutes a game, he's going to have 20-points a game, we already know that."

Lorenzo Williams was the leading scorer for Rice with 19.

Kent is hoping that the trip to Vanderbilt, win or lose is an opportunity for the team to face adversity because of facing a hostile crowd and different officiating, and in the long run facing that adversity will be beneficial to the team.

"Obviously getting ready to go on the road some things are going to change because you won't have this great crowd with you," observed Kent. "There maybe 50 people plus you on the road at Vanderbilt, which is like a Pac-10 environment."

Oregon will get its chance to face that adversity and improve the season record to 5-0 next Wednesday. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Pacific time and the game will be carried on OSN radio only.

Box score

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