The Ducks lost themselves on the road last weekend and hadn't shown much since to show that they had gotten the flair back that won them nine of their first ten games to open the season. Energy was lacking in all three of the games since last Thursday, and today started much the same way.
Luke Jackson carried the early scoring load for the Ducks, scoring Oregon's first seven points, but the energy wasn't there for anyone on the Oregon squad. Oregon State on the other hand was flying up and down the court, forcing turnovers and scoring many of their points off of hustle. Oregon looked flat.
However, Andre Joseph, the 6-3 shooting guard transfer from Lee Junior College checked into the game for Oregon and the energy shifted. Joseph was all over the place, playing tough defense, getting out into transition and grabbing many key rebounds. It was an Andre Joseph three pointer at the 9:25 mark that gave Oregon a 20-18 lead, their first since Jackson's three pointer to open the scoring.
Oregon had seemed to find at least some of that energy that they had earlier in the season, something Coach Ernie Kent was happy about. "Just as easily as you (lose) it, you can find it again," Kent said.
Despite holding the first half lead, the Ducks looked sloppy and sluggish. They committed 11 first half turnovers and were shooting only 39 percent from the floor. Oregon State forced many of the turnovers through their tough defense and hustle.
Oregon State's hustle also led to them tying the game twice, early in the second half. The first was off of a Brian Jackson layup at the 17:47 mark to knot the game at 40, then moments later, Phillip Ricci tied the game at 42 when he drew a foul on Oregon's Brian Helquist on a drive to the hoop. Ricci missed the free throw and he also missed Oregon State's only chance to take the lead in the second half.
After those few scary moments for the Ducks, Oregon went on a 9-2 run to push the lead back out to seven points. Joseph once again hit a big three pointer that brought the Mac Court crowd to its feet. Luke Jackson and Luke Ridnour also had big hoops in that run.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon's Luke Jackson, right, goes up for two points against Oregon State's Floyd North III in the second half in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2003. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Oregon State never got any closer than five points from there on out. The Ducks had to claw and fight, but in the end, they came out with a 79-68 victory.
One of the more impressive stats for the Ducks today was rebounding. Oregon has had trouble rebounding against teams this year, and were even out rebounded by the Portland State Vikings on Wednesday. The Ducks weren't going to let that happen today as they grabbed 42 boards compared to Oregon State's 30.
After the first half when Oregon had 11 turnovers, they only committed two in the second half, a very telling stat. The Ducks came out with a different attitude in the second period and their more efficient play on the court showed that.
Phillip Ricci, Oregon State's 6-7 senior forward led the Beavers in both scoring and rebounds today. He grabbed 11 boards and scored 24 points in 36 minutes. Lamar Hurd went 5-8 from the floor and scored 13 points today. Senior Jimmie Haywood also added 12 points.
Next up for Oregon State are the Washington State Cougars. The Cougars and Beavers will tipoff at 7:05 in Gill Coliseum in Corvallis next Thursday. This game will be important for the Beavers as they will try to improve their overall record from 7-7 and get their first Pac-10 win. Currently the Beavers are 0-5 in Pac-10 play.
"We're 0-5 so far in the Pac10 but our team feels really good," Oregon State guard Lamar Hurd said. "We feel like we're going to break through really soon."
Luke Ridnour had a huge game for the Ducks today, scoring 28 points and putting up 11 assists. The 11 assists marks the sixth highest single game total for a Duck. The record of 13 is held by three former Ducks: Terrell Brandon who did it against Portland in 1989, Andre Collier against UCLA in 1993 and Darius Wright against Arizona in 1999.
Big days were recorded by four other Ducks. Luke Jackson struggled shooting the ball from the floor, but did the little things necessary. He was 6-19 from the floor for 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. Robert Johnson had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Andre Joseph set a career high for rebounds with 10 today. He also scored eight points.
"James Davis and Andre Joseph have to handle Freddie Jones' spot and Freddie's minutes," Kent said. "I have to feel like they gave me what Freddie gave me defensively and offensively. Those two make up one guy. Today James was a little off, but Andre was there to carry us through."
The Ducks will face Washington next Thursday at 5:30 in Mac Court. Doug Wrenn will be tough to stop for the Ducks. He is a very explosive guard that was a tough matchup for Oregon last year. Sophomore guard, Will Conroy leads the Huskies in scoring with 13.6 points per game. Washington is now 7-8 after beating Stanford today, 73-68. Thursday's game will be televised on OSN.
Coach Kent is excited about the Washington game next week and the opportunities it brings. "We can build on this (game) now and use the intensity of the rivalry coming up next week to build on it."
Stats from www.goducks.com.