Ducks Heat Up, Burn Sun Devils

Thursday night, the Ducks were handled on the boards by the Arizona Wildcats. Saturday night however was a different story. Behind solid rebounding and a couple of big second half runs, the No. 9 University of Oregon Ducks ran past the Arizona State Sun Devils 94-73.

After Thursday night's game, Coach Ernie Kent said that the Ducks needed to get tougher boxing out. They were just that on Saturday, out rebounding the Sun Devils 33-27. This was the effort that fans have come to expect from this Duck squad.

In the early going it looked like the Arizona game might rear its ugly head again for the Ducks. They were out rebounded in the first half 18-16 and trailed by as much as 10 points. A Curtis Millage jumper with 6:05 left gave the Sun Devils their biggest lead at 10.

The Ducks battled back though, and behind some key play from James Davis, Jay Anderson and Matt Short, Oregon trailed by only six at the half, 39-33.

"Jay Anderson and Matt Short won the game for us today with their energy," Kent said.


(photo right) Oregon's Luke Ridnour struggles to pass the ball against Arizona State's Donnell Knight, 21, and Tommy Smith, rear, at the University of Oregon, Jan. 4, 2003, in Eugene, Ore. Arizona State held Ridnour to 5 points in the first half to lead 39-33. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)

This first half was uncharacteristic of the Ducks this season. Luke Ridnour struggled to find his shot, even missing two free throws with 12 seconds left, Oregon turned the ball over a lot and was only shooting 39% from the floor.

The second half was a different story though. Oregon jumped on ASU early with an 11-6 run and then shortly thereafter a 19-0 stint. During Oregon's second run, the Sun Devils missed on the front end of one and one free throw opportunities three times and missed both shots in a two shot situation once. Star freshman Ike Diogu missed on two of the one and one chances.

Those missed free throws led to only more Oregon baskets. Ridnour came alive making some very key shots and Anderson scored eight big points during the run.

When ASU's Jamal Hill made a jumper with a little over eight minutes remaining Oregon's run was stopped, but they still led 69-53. Oregon's Brandon Lincoln and Short then stopped all Sun Devil momentum with two baskets with under eight minutes to go.

The Ducks easily held on from there, extending the lead to as much as 23 points late in the game. It would have stayed at 23 if it weren't for a Kyle Dodd basket with only seconds remaining that made the score 94-73.

It was important for the Ducks to get back in their style of basketball tonight after Thursday's loss. "The speech before the game and the speech at halftime was to fight through things," Coach Kent said. "For us to hang in there and come out in the second half and shoot like we did was great."

Shoot well is exactly what Oregon did in the second half. After 39% field goal shooting in the first half, Oregon shot 81% from the field in the second half, and 58% from beyond the arc. The Ducks finished the game shooting 59% from the floor.


(photo left) Arizona State's Ike Diogu, 5, pulls down a rebound against Oregon's Robert Johnson, teammate Kyle Dodd, 3, stands by at the University of Oregon, Jan. 4, 2003, in Eugene, Ore. Arizona State lead the first half to lead 39-33. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)

Arizona State only had two players in double figures tonight. The first was freshman sensation Ike Diogu. Diogu had 27 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes. Curtis Millage added 18 points.

The Ducks once again put a lot of players in double figures. Ridnour, after a tough first half, found his stroke and led the Ducks with 24 points and seven assists. Forward Luke Jackson quietly found himself with another double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Andre Joseph and Jay Anderson both had ten points each and both coming off the bench.

ASU will next face the University of Washington Huskies on Thursday. Washington had a big win tonight over the USC Trojans at home.

Oregon will play California next, this one will be at Berkley on Thursday with tipoff scheduled for 7:00. The Ducks will look to run their Pac-10 record to 2-1 with a win against the Golden Bear

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