Ducks Notch 2nd Pac-10 Win of the Season

Eugene – You would have thought the Ducks had just cinched a birth in the final four on their home court by the reaction of the crowd, but when the horn sounded and the students rushed onto the floor, Oregon (8-20, 2-14) had beaten Oregon State (13-14, 7-9) by a score of 79-69.

(PHOTO) Matt Humphrey follows his own miss for two of his 17 points. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

The game was relatively free of mistakes as Oregon committed 10 turnovers and committed 16 fouls while OS had 12 turnovers and 24 personals. Both squads shot better than 50 percent from the field. Oregon was 51.2 percent on 22-of-43, including 9-for-15 in 3s; Oregon State, 51 percent on 26-of-51 with 7-of-19 outside the 3-point arc.

The Ducks had to come back from a 10-point deficit at halftime. Oregon went into the locker room trailing 38-28 and it started to look like the same old song and dance of turnovers from poor passing and missing point blank shots. However, what the Ducks did was come back out and stay very energized on defense. Even though OS built a 14-point lead at 43-29, the Ducks kept playing, not backing down and finding ways to make defensive stops. As the Beaver lead whittled away, the crowd started getting louder and louder. Finally with 12:27 left in the game, Tajuan Porter hit a jumper to tie the game at 48. A few seconds later OS's Lathen Wallace fouled Porter as he went up for a 3-point shot and the mistake put Porter on the line for three easy points. From that point on, the Ducks never relinquished the lead. The crowd did their part by being as noisy as ever in historic Mac Court and at time causing to look confused and frustrated, especially when Oregon employed its press.

"We had a great crowd," describe Porter of the hometown cooking. "I'm so happy for the freshmen, because they have never seen it like this before. All the fans contributed to this win today"

Porter led the team in scoring with 24 on 5-for10 field goal shooting including hitting three 3-pointers, and 11-for-14 from the free throw line. Matt Humphrey hit a career high 17-points on 6-of-8 shooting including 4-of-6 in 3s. Humphrey also made key defensive plays and was only out of the game long enough to re-hydrate and treat for a cramp.

"Matt Humphrey played like that all week," said Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent of what Humphrey did in practice.

The defensive press threw the Beavers off the same way the 1-3-1 zone OS used in the first game in Corvallis threw off the Ducks. The Beavers in the first half were riddling the Ducks with simple pick and rolls and back door plays, but in the second half, the Ducks started playing defense by moving into spots that had been so wide open in the first half. As a result Oregon State could not find the easy basket and had to settle for long jump shots.

"This was very frustrating, because their pressure bothered us," said Oregon State headman Craig Robinson. "It's been a long time since a team's pressure has bothered us. I have to give them credit."

In crunch time during the second half, Porter shinned with his performance at point guard. He found open shooters, penetrated and hit jumpers when it was absolutely necessary. Porter finished with four assists but his leadership was obvious.

"I tried to take control of the game because I am more experienced than Garrett Sim, but we all stayed solid on defense," explained Porter. "Josh Crittle and Matt Humphrey had a good game too. We kept OSU off-balance and it was the key today. We pressed them and we got our second win. This really energized us."

Unless the unimaginable should happen and the Ducks win the Pac-10 Tournament which gives an automatic NCAA birth, the Ducks must be satisfied with good wins. Tonight along with last week's win over Stanford are good wins for a team that was winless in conference. Next week the Ducks make the most difficult road trip in the Pac-10 – to Los Angeles for match ups against USC and UCLA. Are these two winnable games? Coach Kent would not directly answer the question but he did point out that the team is growing and if there were a chance of success his squad would have to have a defense mentality.

With the growth of players like Matt Humphrey it is a matter of time before great dividends are realized. Maybe not this year, but it will happen.

"Oregon State is a great defensive team and not many people have scored almost 80 points on them like we did tonight," said Kent of his team's victory. "This was a great way to end the home season and we have some real momentum now when we need it the most."

So while it is a big stretch to even imagine the Ducks could win two more regular season games and go strongly into the Pac-10…

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