Ducks move to 9-0

Eugene, Ore. – Warming up the nets to the tune of 59.7 percent field goal shooting for the game, the Oregon Ducks improved their season record to 9-0 with a 100-74 win over the Eastern Washington Eagles at McArthur Court on Friday evening. The game had promised to showcase EWU's Rodney Stuckey, but back spasm sidelined him after four minutes of play. Bryce Taylor's 24 points led Oregon scoring.

(PHOTO) Bryce Taylor (4) slams home two of his game high 24 points in Oregon's 100-74 victory over Eastern Washington, at McArthur Court in Eugene, December 15, 2006. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

"All of Eastern Washington's games throughout this season have been high scoring," said Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent of the win. "They are a strong offensive team."

Oregon controlled the game from the opening tip and while the anticipated show down between Stuckey and Taylor failed to materialize, the Eagles kept the game competitive through the first 20 minutes. Oregon shot decently throughout the game and in the first half sunk 20 field goals on 37 attempts (54.1 percent) including 8-of-16 three pointers. Taylor and Aaron Brooks paced the first half effort with 14 and 11 points respectively, but it was an aggressive Oregon defense that kept a determined EWU team at bay. Without Stuckey, the Eagles relied on center Paul Butorac who played very tough inside despite a solid defensive effort by Maarty Leunen and Ray Schaffer. Oregon led at the half 46-37 and when play resumed the defensive intensity increased.

The Duck defensive effort netted six turnovers in the first half, but with an increased energy level in the second half the Ducks more than doubled the number and EWU finished with 19 turnovers. Oregon capitalized on the turnovers while steadily increasing the lead.

"We came out really well in the second half, getting nine straight stops in the early going," observed Kent. "That was the difference in the game."

A milestone was reached tonight for Aaron Brooks as he went over the 1,000-point plateau for his Oregon career. Brooks finished the night with 16 points on 6-for-15 field goal shooting including 1-for-5 outside the 3-point arc. Brooks now has a total of 1,010 career points. Bryce Taylor's 24 led all scorers and what was particularly impressive was that he was 8-for-10 in field goal shooting including 2-for-3 from 3-point land. Malik Hairston had 20 while Leunen finished with 10 to go along with eight rebounds. Tajuan Porter also finished with 10 but left the game early in the second half after suffering a sprained big toe on his left foot. His status is day to day.

Kent had been concerned about the Ducks shooting touch on the road and said that in practice on Saturday he would emphasis that his players shoot a 1,000 shots in practice. Taylor for one likes the idea.

"Coach gives me a green light to shoot," remarked Taylor realizing repetitive shooting keeps the shooter's edge.

Ray Schaffer also was banged up and left the game briefly in the second half with blood flowing down his face. He required six stitches for a cut that occurred after collision with Butorac.

Butorac was the leading scorer for EWU with 16 points. The only other Eagle to finish with double figure scoring was Michael Taylor, who had 14.

When asked to compare the two Pac-10 opponents he has faced, EWU's headman Mike Burns felt Oregon was much like last year's Washington squad with the pressure defense and the outside play. Burns felt the Ducks have so many athletes that can turn a game that it will be very interesting to him to see Oregon and Washington lock horns later this season. Eastern Washington a run for their money on November 24th before losing to the Huskies at Seattle, 90-83. Stuckey had 31 points that night.

"I really like Oregon's perimeter guys," Burns stated after the game.

While Stuckey's presence may have made the game less lopsided there is no doubt that Oregon was the superior team on the court. The Ducks were more energetic and athletic. Taylor is playing with an abundant amount of energy and it is clear the Ducks have been in better physical shape than any of their opponents so far this season.

The Ducks take the court again on Sunday night against Idaho State but the game will not likely be the high scoring affair like against EWU. Kent believes that ISU will slow the pace of the game down and will employ a stringent zone defense.

"Idaho State is a much different team that the one that we faced tonight in that they slow the ball down and are a ball control team," Kent offered of Oregon's next opponent. "They will give us an entirely different look for us to work on and how we respond to that will be a good test for this team."

Tip off for Sunday's match up will be at 5 p.m.

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