Nothing shaky about it, Oregon 93-85 victors

Eugene, Ore. -- Led by Aaron Brooks' 30 points, the Oregon Ducks (22-7, 10-7) downed the Washington Huskies (16-12, 6-10) by a score of 93-85. The win aided by a rowdy McArthur Court crowd of 9,087 partisan fans evened Oregon's season competition with Washington and avenging an earlier 89-77 loss in Seattle.

(PHOTO) Aaron Brooks (0) makes a sensational reverse lay-up past Ryan Appleby (20) for two of his game high 30 points in Oregon's 93-85 victory over Washington. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

Shooting 10-for-14 from the field including 4-of-7 outside the 3-point barrier, Aaron Brooks was on a tear. Missing the first contest with the Huskies in his hometown of Seattle due to a suspension because of an incident in last year's Pac-10 tourney, Brooks more than made up for some lost time. His hot shooting also extended to the free throw line (6-for-8) and dished out six assists. Even though he made the gesture to shake hands with Washington's Ryan Appleby, the two did not shake hands either at tip off or at the end of the game.

In the Oregon-Washington game during the Pac-10 tourney last year, Brooks hit Appleby with a forearm shot that caused an immediate ejection and subsequent suspension of games this season. Brooks said he made a mistake last year and while he extended his hand to Appleby, he now considers the incident done and has moved on. Appleby though thinks differently.

"It was just a gut reaction not to shake his hand," Appleby said after the game on why he didn't shake Brooks' hand. "Last year he took a cheap shot on me, I don't feel he was penalized the right way and I'm not going to acknowledge someone like that."

While the match up between Brooks and Appleby drew a large amount of attention from the Oregon students who sat courtside, the real story of this game was Oregon's ability to limit Husky big man, 7-footer Spencer Hawes to 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting. While Hawes showed what he could do in the second half, Oregon's Maarty Leunen and Joevan Catron held him in check at crucial times during the game by a tenacious defensive effort.

"We tried to be physical with them and keep them out of their comfort zones," said Catron of the Ducks' play.

Oregon led 46-40 going into the half but trailed the Huskies as much as 11 points in the half, however the Ducks put on a number of runs and when the whistle sounded for halftime, things had turned Oregon's way. Appleby did a great deal of damage in the first 20 minutes of play by burying five 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 21-points. Oregon weathered the storm and a three-minute scoring drought. The Ducks came back with good defense and crisp shooting. The Ducks shot 50 percent from the field in the first half on 14-of-28 shooting including 5-of-11 in 3's. Oregon overall was 54.3 percent from the field (25-of-46) including 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) in 3-point shooting.

However when play resumed in the second half the game seesawed back and forth with both teams finding the shooting touch. Oregon shot 61 percent in the second half on 11-of-18 shooting. The Huskies shot 58.6 percent in the second half on 17-for-29 shooting but the 3-point shot fell off from 54.5 percent (6-for-11) in the first half to 22.2 percent (2-of-9) in the second half. While Hawes made his presence felt, the Huskies couldn't buy a 3-pointer in the last 20 minutes of action.

"Defensively, the intensity was up," said Bryce Taylor of the game. "It was an up and down game, but at times, we buckled down and got stops."

Four Ducks finished up in double figures led by Brooks' 30. Tajuan Porter again showed nerves of steel and demonstrated that he's never seen a jump shot he's afraid to take. Porter had 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting including 3-for-6 in 3-pointers. He also had 8-for-9 free throw shooting. Taylor finished the night with 1t points while Leunen chipped in 13 and Catron came up with a strong performance with 11 points. The Ducks also lit up the free throw line for the game connecting on 34-of-40 charity shots.

"All-around, so many guys played well for us," observed Oregon's Ernie Kent of his team. "We continued to shoot free throws well and did a great job defensively."

In addition to Hawes' 20, the Huskies were paced by Appleby's 21. Quincy Pondexter had 13 before fouling out late in the game and Salem's Phil Nelson added 10. The Huskies out rebound the Ducks 28-22, but the figure could have been much worse had Hawes had his way. The Ducks managed to keep the Huskies boxed out and not get easy second shots, but in the end it was Oregon's Brooks that was the biggest thorn in the Huskies' side.

"This team is a much better team with Aaron Brooks," said Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar of Oregon. "They have a chance to be very successful against anyone with Aaron Brooks on the floor."

The atmosphere in Mac Court was hot with passion and loud with noise, as Duck fans found something special in the win over their nemesis Huskies. Brooks said afterwards that he still is not exactly sure why the rivalry is bigger than the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry, but he felt it on Saturday.

"I felt it today," said Brooks of the atmosphere inside Mac Court. "We felt the intensity and the anger and it lifted this team up."

Brooks may be particularly sensitive about the Huskies, after all he is a Seattle native and still loves his hometown. Next week however, the Civil War comes back to Eugene and the Ducks are going to have their hands full with an Oregon State team that would love to put a damper in the Ducks' hopes of going into the Pac-10 tourney on a win streak.

"We're going in the right direction now," observed Taylor. "The nature of the rivalry (Oregon-Oregon State) and it being the last game of the season makes it a big game."

Kent thought the two technical fouls called on the Ducks was correct and that he apologized to the officiating crew for coming onto the court. The incident occurred with 9:54 left in the game when Taylor was called for a technical and Kent protested by going onto the floor.

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