Ducks Overwhelm Sacramento State

Eugene – It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time for the Oregon Ducks (8-1) Starting off slowly, Oregon ran away with it in the end, 93-66 over Sacramento State (2-7) at McArthur Court. Two Duck players earned career highs in scoring while a third piled on more statistics to his impressive year. Earlier in the day, two Ducks became eligible to become college graduates.

(PHOTO) Oregon's Maarty Leunen, left, is fouled by Sacramento State's Loren Leath during the second half of a college basketball game in Eugene, Ore., Dec. 11, 2007. Leunen lead the Ducks in scoring with 23 and 11 rebounds. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

"Eventually, our size, athleticism and skill allowed us to rise above them," said Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent of the contest.

The game was competitive in the first half as the Hornets built leads as much as six points but as the game progressed and the Ducks continued to find the open man and reduce Sacramento State's chance at offensive rebounds, Oregon took a 46-36 lead into halftime.

In the second half Oregon relied on controlling the rebounds and hitting nearly 50 percent of their shots. For the game the Ducks out rebounded the Hornets 46 to 32 and shot 50.8 percent on 32-of-63 including 10-of-26 in 3-pointers. Meanwhile Sacramento State shot only 32.4 percent in the second half after a much warmer 45.2 percent in the first half.

Oregon was led in scoring by Maarty Leunen with 23 points. Leunen also had another double-double by pulling down 11 rebounds. Joevan Catron had his best scoring day as a Duck with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 1-for-1 in 3's. He also had eight rebounds. Tajuan Porter finished the night with 17 points and Bryce Taylor chipped in 15. A fifth Duck, Frantz Dorsainvil had his first game with double figure scoring with 11 points.

"Maarty Leunen took it upon himself to score," said Kent. "He had a fantastic first half and a fantastic game.

Leunen was nonchalant about the evening claiming the scoring was simply a matter of doing what he does in practice.

"Opportunities weren't there in the beginning," comment Leunen on the game. "I was just making shots that I would normally take."

Malik Hairston and LeKendric Longmire were held out of action to heal up some sore spots. Hairston was nursing a bruised heel while Longmire was hurting from a fall he took at the Papé Jam last Saturday against Utah. Both are expected to play on Saturday against Nebraska at the Qwest Center in Omaha.

With Hairston and Longmire out, that freed up space on the floor for Dorsainvil. The big, 6-foot-8 muscleman showed that he can take up lots of space and that he is a natural in the low post. He overpowered the defenders when he wanted to get to the basket and it just a matter of time that he will become a force for the Ducks – something Oregon will need heading into the Pac-10 season. Kamyron Brown started in place of Hairston and finished with four points, two rebounds, six assists and two steals. Churchill Odia also made a contribution tonight playing 20 minutes and scoring three points and grabbing five rebounds.

"It was good for them to play key roles in the game," said Leunen of the bench's contribution. "We're going need them come Pac-10 time because we know the value of having a deep bench."

Catron, continued to find ways to make himself part of the action in this game. He seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time and if these trends continue he could be one of the highlights of the year.

"It was nice to score it (20 points) at the collegiate level," Catron said of his night. "Hopefully, there will be a lot more to come."

Loren Leath led Sacramento State with 20 points. Donald Thomas had 11 and was the only other Hornet in double figure scoring.

Earlier in the day, Taylor and Leunen learned that they had passed all of their courses they had taken in fall term and are now fully eligible to apply for their Bachelor's Degree. By finishing their course load in three and half years, they become the fourth and fifth players on the Ducks' roster to essentially be college graduates, something Kent is extremely proud of. Kent gave a clue to how the basketball program has achieved such a high number of academic successes.

"We really utilize the summer to get ahead academically," confessed Kent of the solution. "It helps get everyone on track."

Summer school and hard work is something that Kent is using in attracting recruits to come to Oregon and based on the results of the 2007 recruiting class, rated 11th by Scout.com, it is obviously working.

For those that may have been watching ESPN and saw a report that Oregon had been upset by Sacramento State, take heart, the Ducks won and in big fashion. Tonight's game was a matter of better athletes, who are mature and experienced in playing with each other, and finding a methodical way of winning. They will need this experience in the rest of the out of conference games as the Pac-10 could be as even as it has ever been. The team that makes the fewest mistakes, hits free throws and executes plays in the closing minutes of games will come out the winner.

With school out, Kent has challenged his team to take every advantage to get better.

"Now that they don't have any classes, basketball becomes their class," observed the headman. "Now they have plenty of solitary time to spend in the gym in order to get ready for the Pac-10 play.

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