Ducks back to work on Saturday

Portland, Ore. -- After having nine days off from basketball the Oregon Men will take the court tomorrow afternoon at 12 p.m. inside the Rose Garden in Portland against Nebraska. Oregon's head coach Ernie Kent says the Ducks have been involved in taking exams back on campus in Eugene, but tomorrow is the last final of the term.

"The biggest thing for us is to shake the cobwebs out," said Kent after the Ducks concluded practice on Friday afternoon. "We've been off nine days now and a little brain dead with all the academics, but at the same time they have more exam and that's tomorrow at twelve o'clock."

The Ducks are 6-0 for the season and a win over the Cornhuskers (5-1) would give Oregon its best start since the 1996-97 season. The Ducks had a huge emotional uplift when they beat the then ranked No. 18 Georgetown Hoyas on Nov. 29th, and while some of the emotion has died down over the big win, there is a certain air of confidence that was sorely missing last year. While the Ducks were remarkable smaller in stature to Georgetown, the Hoyas could not keep up with the well-conditioned Ducks.

"The Georgetown win allowed them to understand that you can play small and have success," said Kent of the Oregon's last win. "We rebounded the ball well, defended well, we ran well but we still have not shot well on the road so I think there is a lot of growth potential on this basketball team."

The Ducks shot a chilly 38.9 percent shooting average against the Hoyas to pull off the 57-58 win. While the Ducks were miserably cold in the first half shooting just 9-for-32 (28.1 percent) they managed to warm up in the second half with a respectable 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) to put the game out of reach. Bryce Taylor was the second leading scorer against Georgetown with 14 points and today in practice he seemed to have an extra level of energy as in practice. One reason could have been is that his dad Brian Taylor and younger brother were in the stands watching practice.

"That was his dad and little brother, they allow you to play at that level," remarked Kent of Taylor's practice. "I was glad to see them in here today and hopefully he'll have a monster game for us."

Taylor was also appreciative that his family members came to Portland to watch him perform.

"It's always good to see familiar faces," admitted Taylor. "I'm really close to my family and my little brother. He and my dad just made the trip up (from Los Angeles) to check us out and hopefully we'll play a good game and I'll be able to perform for them."

One of the factors that have aided the Ducks this season is that they have been in better physical condition than their opposition. During the two hour practice the Ducks ran a good steady pace and did not appear winded at all. Taylor in particular seemed to run very hard and attempt dunk shots that help him condition his legs. Taylor believes conditioning has been a key to success so far this year.

"In any game, at the end of the first half or the beginning of the second half when I see opponents breathing harder I know they are a lot more tired than I am and I try to use that to my advantage. Especially when we are playing in a fast break game, we feel we have the advantage because we were able to wear the other team down."

Nebraska is coming off a 75-73 loss to Rutgers last Saturday night. The Cornhuskers are led by center Aleks Maric, a 6-11 junior that is averaging 20.7 point and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Tomorrow's game is expected to draw between 12,000-13,000 as Portland Duck Fans will get the only chance of the year to see the green and yellow in the Rose City. Tickets are still available. The game will be televised nationally on FSN. Following the men's game the women will take the court at approximately 2:30 p.m. to play Colorado.

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