Ducks Stomp Trojans, 81-57

Los Angeles – The Oregon Ducks jumped all over the USC Trojans and often in a one-sided affair that saw another Duck step up and take over. Bryce Taylor hit all of his field goals on way to a 32-point performance and led the Ducks to a 81-57 win over the Trojans and ensure Ernie Kent his second Pac-10 Tournament title.

(PHOTO) Bryce Taylor dunks for 2 of his 32 points on 11-for-11 shooting. (Photo by Chris Wilson).

"When I look back and reflect on this game the thing that comes to my mind our trip last summer to the Bahamas where this team really jelled and came together," said Kent donning a Pac-10 Tourney Championship hat. "Even though we didn't have our freshmen with us, we just felt like our spirit had changed and found a great rhythm."

The Ducks had a great rhythm all right and one would only need to scan the score sheet and see the numbers to prove it. Taylor exploded on scene today hitting 11-for-11 field goals including 7-for-7 in 3-pointers and also sank all three of his free throws. The tournament Most Valuable Player, Tajuan Porter kept up his hot streak by hitting 6-of-11 field goals plus 2-for-3 in free throw shooting for 16 points. Porter also broke the all-time Oregon record for 3-point shooting going 2-for-5. He now has 95 long-range jumpers for the season and is also the Pac-10's top 3-point shooter ever. Aaron Brooks, who along with Taylor was named to the all-tournament team, finished the day with 15.

Taylor's output was the fourth best ever in the tournament and when Kent looked at the stat sheet for the game and realized Taylor was perfect he only had one word for the performance, "unbelievable."

The Ducks set another record for the tournament with 34 total 3-pointers.

While the Duck sharpshooters were out in force, Oregon established a tournament record with a total of 14 makes beyond the 3-point line, it was their defense and control of the rebounds that stood out in the game. Even though no single Duck had more that eight rebounds (Maarty Leunen) Oregon had a 43-to-26 rebounding advantage over the Trojans. The Ducks utilized great positioning and seemed to have an extra bounce in their legs today controlling the boards. On the defensive end of the court Oregon kept USC from getting to the shooting spots they wanted. The Trojans shot 23-for-61 (37.7 percent) and caused USC to turn the ball over 15 times.

"The key thing in all of our success in this stretch of six games has been defense," observed Kent of his team. "They have bought into the defense and I just thought they were phenomenal defensively."

Initially the game looked like it might be a fairly close affair as USC climbed out to a 7-2 lead. The Ducks tied the contest at 7 with about four minutes gone from the clock and took the lead for good with Taylor's first jumper – a 3-point shot. The Ducks ran off scoring stretches of 41-to-15 and 28-to-8 in the game to build the insurmountable lead and for the third game in a row it was a blow out.

While the contests were hard fought throughout the tournament, did Kent expect such a route over the competition in the country's top conference?

"No, this conference is extremely tough and coming down the stretch like this I knew we were playing well," said Kent. "Washington State, Washington and Oregon State (the last three wins in the regular season) took us to anther level for two reasons. Number one our defense really crank up and got focused and confident and that just opens up the transition game so much more. Number two, Malik Hairston came back to the party. His body started feeling a lot better, his numbers started going up and I knew we were going to go up another level, but I never envisioned we were going to blow teams out like this."

The win also avenged two losses the Ducks suffered to the Trojans this season. In both games the contests were close and competitive but not so today. USC was the only team the Ducks did not beat in the regular season and when it came down to securing the winner's trophy the Ducks clearly wanted it more.

"We were playing with tons of energy and getting stops on the defensive end," said Leunen of the game. "We made a statement in the first half that we're ready to play and we wanted this championship."

Even Kent's new boss, Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny was struck by the performance of the team on Saturday.

"Everything came together in the last two or three weeks," said Kilkenny of the Men's team. "The kids are awesome."

Now that they are the Pac-10 Tournament Champions they will go home and await the verdict of where the will appear in the NCAA playoffs. Even if they were red hot in Los Angeles that doesn't mean they can rest on what happened this weekend.

"I don't think we're playing our best basketball because I think there's a lot more we can get done and will continue to do so," admitted Hairston of the upcoming NCAA Tournament. "It's definitely scary. We have a lot more people that can come to the party."

The team celebrated their championship by cutting down the nets and as the Staples Center emptied of fans from the other programs, the Duck fans stayed and cheered the players. After coming off a disappointing year in the 2005-06 season, this dominating run has to feel especially good to Kent. He withstood the storm of adversity from losing and as he walked out of the arena he acknowledged the Oregon faithful by tipping his championship hat. The crowd cheered back as both he and the Ducks have a right to feel a lot better about things.

Notes:
California's Ryan Anderson, USC's Taj Gibson and Gabe Pruitt were also named to the all-tourney team.

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