Ducks Sink In Rose Garden

Portland, Ore. -- Two one-sided affairs took place on Saturday afternoon and evening at Portland's Rose Garden during the 8th annual Papè Jam. The Oregon Ducks enjoyed one of the outcomes but the other was the worst non-conference defeat in Men's coach Ernie Kent time at Oregon. The Duck men fell to 10th ranked Illinois 89-59 in a rout that Oregon sophomore forward Malik Hairston described the Ducks' performance as "a poor effort all around."

(PHOTO) Illinois's Dee Brown shoots over Oregon's Aaron Brooks (0) during the second half Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005, at the Rose Garden, in Portland, Ore. Illinois defeated Oregon, 89-59. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The loss dropped Oregon's season record to 4-3 and the last two games have been devastating to a young team's confidence. Last week the Ducks were manhandled by Georgetown at McArthur Court in Eugene by a 71-57 score, shooting a poor 44.8 percentage from the field but those figures may have made the game more respectable against the Illini. After shooting 26.1 percent in the first half the Ducks finished the game with an icy 35.1 percent or 20-of-57, and only 3-of-17 in 3-point attempts. Give credit to a stingy Illinois defense but the Illini showed why they are 10-0 for the season and ready to jump higher in the top-10 and make a run for major national headlines. The men from the Midwest simply out hustled, outfought and outworked the Ducks in every aspect of the game.

They are an excellent defensive team and they played extremely well," said Kent of Illinois' performance. "Their defense took us out of our game plan and (Dee) Brown really controlled the tempo and the game."

While Oregon seemed unconfident and unsure of what to do with the ball in the half court offense, Brown, Illinois' senior guard, was decisive and quick to find wide-open shooting opportunities with ease. Brown finished the game shooting 9-of-15 from the field including a blistering 5-of-8 3-pointers and 3-for-4 free throws to finish the game as high scorer with 26. Brown found his rhythm early and scored as though he never met a jump shot he didn't like.

"The ball was going in for me today," Brown said modestly. "Everyday I go out there an play hard and today I was able to make shots."

If Brown's efforts weren't enough bad news for the Ducks, Illinois ability to get second opportunities to shoot was a real heart breaker for Oregon. The Illini out rebounded the Ducks 45 to 29 and Illinois had 13 offensive rebounds to Oregon's 8.

"He played at another level and his ability to score and control the flow of the game was a big factor in us getting out of our shooting rhythm," said Kent.

Brown poured salt in Oregon's wounds by also dishing out seven assists.

Brown was aided in his efforts in stopping Oregon's win streak at the Papè Jam at seven by Illinois center James Augustine, who had 11 rebounds to go along with his eight points. Forwards Brian Randle and Shaun Pruitt both had seven boards and nine and eight points respectively. Brown's fellow guard Rich McBride finished the game with 13 points and Jamar Smith and Marcus Arnold came off the bench to score 10 and 11 each.

"I did not anticipate this," said an elated Illinois head coach Bruce Weber. "I was happy we were able to get out with a win. It was just one of those games. Defense and obviously Dee (Brown)."

The Ducks only had two players scoring in double figures during the game. Hairston had 12, on a 5-of-10 effort and 1-for-1 from the charity stripe but the one bright spot for the Ducks was the play of Ivan Johnson. Johnson scored 16 point, shooting 7-of-12 and 2-of-5 from the free throw line. Johnson brought in a tough guy attitude and would not succumb to the constant Illini defensive pressure. The Ducks trailed at halftime, 40-22, but Johnson scored the first five points of the second half and his energy allowed Oregon to get within 12 points at 46-34 with 16:38 showing left in the second half.

"Ivan was probably the lone bright spot," said Kent of Johnson's play. "They just took us out of the game and they played very well and just didn't."

As soon as the Ducks made their mini-run, Brown stepped in and with hot shooting and assists thwarted Oregon's burst of energy. In the course of two minutes and 14 seconds, Illinois scored three times with Brown hitting 2-point field goal, passed for an assist and then it a 3-point shot to kill Oregon's momentum. Illinois padded their lead back to 55-36 with 14:24 left, while all Oregon could manage was a Hairston lay-in.

"We let our defense get loose," said Hairston of the game. "They jumped on us quickly. We had a short run, but it didn't last."

Kent realized that in scheduling a tough trio of games in December that it would be a risky chance. While the Ducks played well against an evenly matched team in Vanderbilt, Oregon was sloppy and appeared fatigued against Georgetown. However, against Illinois the Ducks were simply outmatched by a better team. Perhaps Illinois was being generous after the game by giving out compliments to the Ducks by describing the Ducks as a young team and a good offensive team. At one point, Weber mentioned he watched film of the game earlier on Saturday that two teams played last year when Illinois beat Oregon 83-66. Weber actually thought the Ducks would score more points this year but of course, that didn't happen.

"They have a ton of talent," said Weber of the Ducks. "If they can get into defense, they already are a great offensive team. Hairston and Taylor are two of the best wings we will see all year. I think they can still be a great team. Sometimes you need major failure to pull forward."

Major failure is putting it mildly for this Oregon team. Kent, Hairston and Johnson all seemed to agree that this team is not where they want to be. Kent thinks it is a question of confidence, Hairston believes the Ducks need more emotion and play more like a team and Johnson may have summed things up the best.

"We ain't tough enough," said Johnson of the Ducks' mentality.

All three did agree that the best thing the Ducks can do is get back to gym and start working and working harder than they have all season.

Next up for Oregon is Santa Clara at Mac Court. Oregon could use a win to regain some shattered psyche -- both players and fans. The Ducks have five more game in the non-conference schedule including a trip to New Mexico on next Saturday and a trip return trip to Portland to play the Portland Pilots at the Chiles Center. Oregon will open the Pac-10 schedule against Oregon State on New Year's eve at Mac Court.

If the men had a disappointing night of it, the Women ran their competition off the floor early on. The Duck women clobbered an over matched Prairie View A&M 102-36. The game was not even that close. The Ducks had a 55-13 halftime lead and if some wonder why Oregon would put Prairie View on the schedule for the Papè Jam it was because the game dates for this year's contest had changed. Initially, Oregon had Connecticut on tab to play in the Rose Garden but when the dates changed from the first weekend of December to the second week, the Huskies from UConn were unavailable. Oregon's head coach Bev Smith indicated Prairie View did Oregon a favor by agreeing to play on relatively short notice.

Oregon used a taller line up and had five players scoring in double figures. Prairie View starting line up was 6-0, 5-11, 5-5, 5-3 and 5-1 compared to Oregon's starters (6-3, 6-2, 6-0, 5-10 and 5-10). Gabrielle Richards led the Ducks with 16 while Kedzie Gunderson had 15. Brandi Davis had 14 while Cicely Oaks had 13 and Carolyn Gaines had 10.

"We just certainly are a bigger and stronger team and we took advantage of that," said Smith of the game. The Women's record is now 8-1 and will face St. Mary's in Morgan, California on Monday, Dec. 12th. Men's official game statistics for www.goducks.com.

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