Oregon Surfs Past the Waves 100-70

Low tide near Pepperdine University started at 4:16 Saturday afternoon, coincidently that was the about same time their men's basketball team started its game against the University of Oregon. Unfortunately for the Pepperdine Waves high tide (and their offense) didn't roll back in until 10:49—many hours after the Ducks coasted to 100-70 victory.

The Ducks took charge of the game early and finished the first half with a commanding 53-23 lead. The 30 point lead didn't deter Oregon from playing with the same intensity in the second half, forcing the Pepperdine coaches to call a much needed time out after an alley-oop from Tajuan Porter to Malik Hairston put the Ducks up 71-28. The lead stretched to 45 points with 14 minutes left in the game as the clearly outmatched Waves could not counter Oregon's athleticism.

Pepperdine coach Vance Walberg saw the obvious difference between his players and the veteran-filled Oregon team, saying "They're men. You can look at the bodies compared to our guys' bodies. You can see guys that have paid the price in the weight room. Hopefully in a couple years down the line, we can come around and be a little bit more like they are." The Waves might have a long way to go before they see a team with as much chemistry and production as these Ducks. The lack of experience on the Pepperdine team was astonishing. "We had one guy that had 5 games of experience from last year…five games, that was it," said Walberg. In stark contrast, this year Oregon retains 4 starters and many heavily experienced veterans from a team that advanced all the way to the Elite Eight of the 2007 NCAA tournament.

Oregon worked to build on that experience and sent their reserves in early. Pepperdine responded with an offensive run that cut the lead to 28 before the Ducks pushed it back to 30 to end the game. Porter and Hairston connected on a no-look alley-oop later in the second half that electrified the crowd and made the Pit Crew erupt. Starting Duck guard Bryce Taylor also enjoyed the play, saying "Yeah that was nice. Look for it again, a lot of those this season." Porter played like a true point guard his first official game without Aaron Brooks and finished the night with a career high 9 assists. Porter's pass-first mentality didn't deter him from scoring a team high 17 points—equally the outputs of teammates Malik Hairston and Bryce Taylor.

Porter was not alone in his effort to spread the ball around. The Ducks finished with 26 total assists, including 6 from freshman point guard Kamyron Brown and 4 from senior center Maarty Leunen. The Oregon team was in sync throughout most of the game and drew heavy praise from Pepperdine's humbled coach Walberg. "They shoot it well, they pass it well, very unselfish. I love they way they play."

The ever-reliable Maarty Leunen had another solid outing for the Ducks on Saturday night. Leunen shot an impressive 67% for 9 points and lead the team in rebounds and blocks with 14 and 3 respectively. Leunen and his teammates held the Waves to an incredibly low 25% shooting in the first half and 31% overall while Oregon shot 52% on the night to put the score well out of reach. Oregon coach Ernie Kent likened his offense to the 2007 Oregon football team. "It's a spread offense in basketball too. We've got skilled guys all over the floor. If you can just make basketball plays, we are a really, really good offensive team."

Oregon continued its early season struggle with ball security, but coach Kent said he attributed some of the 18 Duck turnovers to Pepperdine's non-stop full-court press. Kent was not happy about the Oregon ball handling, but he believed it was a valuable early season experience for his team. "It helped us work against the press. We have not seen it and we don't do it to ourselves [in practice]… but we handled it pretty well. It allowed us to work on our transition game, to get out and run [and] share the ball." Kent also thought his starters "played a really solid game of basketball in the first half."

Kent was also pleased with the production he got from his reserve players. Kamyron Brown came off of the bench and logged 27 minutes in the game, which was only two less than Tajuan Porter's team high 29 minutes. Kent praised freshman Lekendric Longmire for his contribution in the game as well (12 points, 4 rebounds). Longmire sat out last season, his first as a Duck, to work on conditioning and improve his overall game. "We worked him really, really hard [last year]. All that work is starting to pay off. You can just see his confidence get a little better with each shot he takes and each trip down the floor. It's impressive how he can go from one end of the floor to the other end of the floor—he's tireless," said Kent.

Kent also thought junior college transfer Frantz Dorsainvil played well considering his year and a half absence from the basketball court. "His production tonight I thought was very good…he's a guy that needed to get more minutes," said Kent. Longmire signed in time to play with the Ducks last year, but encountered problems securing a student visa. Dorsainvil admittedly put on some weight and his game got a little rusty while he was away from the sport, but he worked hard on his conditioning in the off season to get back to his previous level of play. Coach Kent called Dorsainvil a "poor man's version of Ben Wallace."

Oregon faces Pacific at 6:00 Sunday night in its second game of the World Vision Basketball Invitational.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

The Oregon team is asking Ducks fans to purchase and donate Oregon Duck basketballs at the Autzen and Campus Duck Stores. Fans will receive a 20% discount on this purchase. In addition, fans can either bring a gently used or new basketball to The Duck Stores, or donate online at http://worldvision.org/basketballs. A $16 online donation will provide basketballs for two children in the U.S. or around the world!

Official game stats have not yet been posted online, but I will link them after they are made available.

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