Oregon holds off Pacific 80-64

The Oregon Ducks faced off against the Pacific Tigers Sunday night in a game that was nothing like the one-sided blowouts Oregon had posted in its previous outings. The Tigers were 27-4 two years ago and spent last year rebuilding a very young but athletic team. This year the Tigers should make some noise in the Big West Conference, but their bid to upset #12 Oregon was unsuccessful.

Oregon's five starters stayed on the court for most of the game as Pacific kept the score close throughout the night. The Tigers showed great athleticism all over the court, even taking advantage of the Oregon defense on a couple precise alley-oops to their streaking post players. Pacific led much of the first half before Oregon could recover and go on a couple decisive runs. Oregon coach Ernie Kent was prepared for a stiff challenge from Pacific and anticipated a close game. "I thought this game required us to stay with a shorter bench. They're a tough basketball team," said Kent.

Pacific guard Steffan Johnson scored the first 5 points of the game before Tajuan Porter took the ball to the hoop in transition and picked up a foul. Porter buried both of his free throws, and then sank a well-defended three pointer on Oregon's next trip down the court to tie the score at 5. Pacific was never trailed in the first half until Maarty Leunen backed his man down and scored an easy lay in with 11:30 left. Leunen later put up an impressive reverse lay-in that gave Oregon another slim lead and then sank 1 of 2 free throws after getting hacked on a nice drive to the bucket.

Neither team opened up a large lead in the first half as the action seesawed back and forth. Oregon held its biggest lead at 9 points with 2:15 left in the first half after Tajuan Porter sank his third 3 pointer of the half. Pacific cut the Duck lead to four after Johnson sank a three pointer to bring his first half total to 14 points. Oregon led by 7 at the end of the first half with the score at 34-27.

Steffan Johnson came out on fire again in the second half and put up an early 3 pointer, but Tajuan Porter responded with a quick three of his own and a driving lay-up on the following possession. Porter put up his 21st point of the night on an effortless finger-roll in traffic with 16 minutes left on the clock. Porter finished with 28 points to lead all scorers. "Today I felt like I needed to take on the scoring load. They played tough defense but I really just took it upon myself to score with the help of my teammates," said Porter.

The Duck lead swelled to a game high 18 points on a stunning alley-oop from Porter to Malik Hairston with 5:20 left in the game. The play was the highlight of the night for the Ducks, and it served as a reminder that Hairston is much healthier this season after being injured much of the previous two years for the Ducks. Hairston scored 20 points in the game and was happy with the effort put out by the Ducks. "I felt like we shot the ball well today and we made big plays at the right times," said Hairston.

Maarty Leunen struggled from the free throw line, shooting only 3 for 8 on the night. However his struggles at the stripe didn't carry over to the rest of his game as he scored 17 points on 6 for 9 shooting including 6 points from beyond the 3-point line. Leunen grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Ducks for the second night in a row, and in the process posted his 13th career double-double at Oregon.

The Ducks face Western Michigan Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in their third and final 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!

And Now For The Official Game Stats!!!!! *It will open in PDF form.

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