Ducks Bests Mercer for Win 11

Eugene, Ore. – Playing with only eight healthy bodies, the University of Oregon Ducks won their 11th straight game by beating the Mercer Bears of the Atlantic Sun Conference 84-64 in 8,062 fans on the day before Christmas Eve at McArthur Court. Aaron Brooks was the games leading scorer with 27 points.

(PHOTO) Oregon's Adam Zahn slams home two of his career high 15 points to go with a career high 11 rebounds in the Ducks' 84-64 victory over Mercer. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

The outcome of the game really was never in doubt, even after tip off as the Bears (5-6) were out manned by the more athletic Ducks. Even though three of Oregon's major contributors, forward Malik Hairston, guard Tajuan Porter and forward Chamberlain Oguchi were sidelined with various injuries the game was more about the Ducks being able to control the game.

"The biggest thing for us was to manage the game," said Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent. "Eight healthy players and knowing we were going to have people out of position… Knowing we were going to have two or three big guys on the floor at the same time, we just talked about playing solid on defense and smart on offense."

The Ducks have played consistently all year long but the rash of injuries has been something that obviously concerns the Oregon coaching staff and perhaps the Christmas break could not have come at a better time. The few days off may allow players to go home and get what Kent calls "some tender loving care" from the players' moms. A healthy Duck team will be sorely needed as the out of conference schedule concludes and the Pac-10 season begins.

"We need to get Tujuan Porter and Chamberlain Oguchi, hopefully they will be ready to go on the 28th (against Oregon State)," observed Kent of the injury situation. "Malik (Hairston), I just don't know yet. If we get two out of three of those guys back that will be a good thing for us obviously headed into conference play."

Brooks played and scored a "quite 28-points" according to Kent on a 10-for-20 field goal shooting night including one three pointer. Bryce Taylor scored 21 points and seemed to pick the team up when things became a little stagnant.

"I may score a little more often when our team needs it," Taylor said of the times he added his scoring touch to the effort.

One of the players out of position was Maarty Leunen who was at the three-spot (wing) instead of the center position. Even though Leunen was out on the wing for much of the game he still managed to haul down a game high 18 rebounds to go along with 10 points and five assists a block and three steals.

Adam Zahn started and responded by scoring 15 points and cleaning up 11 rebounds. The effort was noticed and appreciated by Kent.

"He really helped himself today with his double-double," remarked Kent of Adam Zahn's play. "I'm really pleased with that."

Zahn may have had the play of the day with a spectacular follow up rebound for a slam-dunk, a play that would be good enough to make the national highlights. Even though he doubts he'll be watching for the highlights on Play of the Day, he was happy with the play.

"I got it when I needed to and luckily I was able to convert, commented Zahn of the play. "It felt good though."

Oregon shot 43 percent for the game on 34-for-79 field goal shooting compared to Mercer's 41.4 percent on 24-for-58. James Florence was the Bears' leading scorer with 19 points before fouling out. Shaddean Aaron also had 16 in the losing effort.

Oregon will have Christmas off and will be back on court next Thursday night against Portland with tip off scheduled for 7 p.m.

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