Oregon Gets Emotional At the Right Time

Eugene -- Malik Hairston said it could be one of the funniest things he's ever seen, Maarty Leunen getting a technical. Not that a technical foul is a funny thing, but the person it was called on has one of the calmest demeanors around. It came at a good time for the Oregon Ducks (12-4, 3-1) defeating the Stanford Cardinal (13-3, 2-2) by a score of 71-66 at McArthur Court on Sunday afternoon.

(PHOTO) Oregon's Maarty Leunen (10) rises over Stanford's Lawrence Hill (15) in the Ducks' 71-66 victory. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

"(It) might be the funniest thing I've seen in a long time," said Malik Hairston of the technical call on Maarty Leunen in the first half. "I'm going to say something to him when I get back in the lockerroom."

Normally the mild mannered Leunen shrugs off calls, good and bad, but after it appeared he was mugged on one end of the court and then called for a foul on a lot less contact at the defensive end he swung his arms out. That was enough to draw the technical, Leunen's first of his career. The Ducks were trailing then 11-8, but the incident seemed to rile the tailfeathers up as Oregon got energized and at one point had a 10 point (32-22) lead.

Stanford, known for having some very heady guys, didn't wilt under the first half pressure and stayed calm, going to their ‘ol standby, Brook Lopez to cut the Ducks' lead at halftime, 41-40.

Lopez and his twin Robin, were everything the Ducks feared they would be – big, strong and tough underneath. It could have been a long afternoon had the Ducks not identified what they needed to do with the pair – front more quickly, get the weakside help and above all limit the touches Lopez(s) would have. It worked in one case, Robin ended up with eight points, but Brook had a big day going 10-for-16 and 26 points.

"We talked about limiting his touches because he is so big," said Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent. "We tried to keep the ball out of his hands and pressure the ball. We just helped Maarty (Leunen) a little bit more down there (in the second half)."

Lopez is a marvel to watch. He's graceful and has the sweetest jump shot, but if you are the opponent he's a bad dream. He had several inches and pounds over Oregon's post man, Leunen, so it was necessary for Leunen to stay between the ball and Lopez at all times. Leunen got great help from Hairston, Bryce Taylor and even Tujuan Porter and without it the game would have been lights out for the Ducks.

"He played extremely well pretty much the whole game," Leunen said of Brook Lopez. "We knew he'd get his points. There's no stopping him. I did my best, and he still got 26 points, but I'll take it as long we get the victory."

Stanford might be looking at things differently though. They saw a very active Oregon team that helped out and found ways to score.

"Give credit to the Ducks," admitted Stanford's Trent Johnson. "They were better than us today."

The Ducks again were well rounded in scoring with Leunen leading the way with 16 on 5-of-13 shooting including a 3-pointer and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Hairston and Porter had 15 each and Taylor had 11. Kamyron Brown continued to show great improvement but fouled out of the contest late in the game. Brown scored nine points. Frantz Dorsainvil had good minutes had a basket, while LeKendric Longmire (3 points), Churchill Odia and Mitch Platt played a solid game.

Porter seemed to re-find his touch that has been AWOL for most of the season and in the final few minutes he was everywhere, breaking Stanford's heart.

"I got my rhythm back," beamed Porter in the post-game interview. "I've been in kind of a slump lately, and I'm just happy to be back in the lineup and playing well."

So were the 9,087 in attendance, except for the contingent from Stanford that is. Porter started lighting the place up with daring drives to the basket, jump shots, and the no-conscious-beyond-the-three he is so famous for.

"We didn't make plays down the stretch," said Stanford's Taj Finger. "When (Tujuan) Porter hit his three we just couldn't get back to beat them."

The win, while at home is very significant because Stanford is such a well-coached and talented basketball team. Over the weekend the Ducks have faced three of the very best post players in the conference, Ryan Anderson of California and Brent and Robin Lopez of Stanford and come away with wins. The strong play by Leunen is going to be crucial down the road and while some of the concerns of December when the Ducks hit a patch of icy games seems to be over, there is some tough basketball left to be played.

"The games get bigger, and the bigger the game, you hope, the more excited you get," observed Kent of his team. "I think we've handled ourselves on the road. When you take care of your home court, you should go on the road with a lot of confidence."

Oregon hits the road this week for a Thursday night game against the Huskies of Washington and then to Pullman for a rare 5 p.m Sunday night game against Washington State.

Hairston passed Luke Ridnour (1,399) on the all time scoring list today. Hairston now has 1,411 points11th spot. Kenya Wilkins with is No. 10 at 1,488.

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