The Importance Of Having Jackson

Oregon forward Luke Jackson has been the big story or related to the big story for the last three games. First it was his injured hand against Washington. Next it was Oregon learning to win without him against Washington State. Tonight the Luke Jackson story was his playing through injury to lead the No. 19 Ducks to a 96-91 overtime win over UCLA.

Coming into tonight's game at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Jackson was unsure as to what he would be able to do on the court or how much he would be able to play. After his brutal hand injury last Thursday it was all in doubt.

With Oregon struggling in the early going and trailing by a score of 16-6 with 15:16 to go in the first half, Jackson made his first appearance in the game. After a short stint on the floor, he left the game, only to return shortly thereafter to let the heroics begin.

Oregon built a 14-3 run over a three minute period that started with a long James Davis three pointer with 11:13 to go in the half, bringing the score to a 22-14 UCLA lead. Center Ian Crosswhite and John Wooden Award Candidate Luke Ridnour both hit big hoops and Oregon tied the game at 25 with 7:39 left.

Enter Luke Jackson. After UCLA forward Jason Kapono drilled a three pointer, Jackson went on a tear. The star from Creswell's first points came off of a goal tending violation but it sparked him. Jackson got a quick two points off of a turnover and then had a big three pointer. That three pointer gave Oregon their first lead of the game at 29-28. As the half closed out, Jackson hit another three pointer that sparked a 7-0 Oregon run that gave them a 42-35 halftime lead. He finished the first half with 10 points on 4-5 shooting.

(PHOTO RIGHT)UCLA's Ryan Walcott (10) forces Oregon's Luke Ridnour to pass in the first half Thursday, Jan. 30, 2003, at Pauley Pavilion in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

The second half opened with another James Davis three pointer and a quick Luke Ridnour foul. Ridnour's foul was his third, taking place at the 19:00 mark. UCLA quickly got back into the ballgame behind the efforts of Cedric Bozeman, Kapono, T.J. Cummings and Dijon Thompson. The Bruins cut the Oregon lead to two points when Thompson was fouled by Luke Ridnour with 15:11 to go. Thompson made both free throws and Ridnour had to sit down with his fourth foul. James Davis took over the point for Oregon but less than thirty seconds later he pulled up lame, favoring his right leg. So Coach Ernie Kent turned to freshman guard Brandon Lincoln.

"We struggled until we put (Brandon Lincoln) in the game at the point guard spot," Kent told OSN.

Lincoln, from Jefferson High School in Portland ran the point beautifully. The only thing that showed up in the stat sheet was Lincoln's three pointer that gave the Ducks a 60-57 lead with 12:38 to go, but he gave so much more to the team than that. He was a calming influence on the floor and got the Ducks back in their groove again.

The former Democrat held onto the point guard spot until Ridnour reentered the game with 7:53 to go and with four fouls. It was at this point that Luke Jackson really started to take over. A Bruin would score at one end, then Jackson would come back down to the Oregon end and make a big hoop.

With 3:24 left, Jackson hit a reverse lay-up off a pass from Ian Crosswhite. That basket gave the Ducks a 79-78 lead. After a couple of possessions resulted in missed shots, UCLA had the ball on their own baseline with 1:57 to go. Oregon played great defense on the inbound play and forced UCLA to call not one but two timeouts on consecutive attempts to throw the ball in.

(PHOTO LEFT)UCLA's Ryan Hollins, behind-left, with help from Dijon Thompson (1) defend Oregon's Robert Johnson in the first half Thursday, Jan. 30, 2003, at Pauley Pavilion in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

When the Bruins finally did get the ball in, they missed their shot and the Ducks had the ball with under 1:45 to go. Luke Ridnour made a rare mistake on the other end of the floor though and UCLA got the ball back off of Ridnour's turnover.

At the other end Kapono was fouled and went to the line. He made both free throws and UCLA led 80-79. Back down to the other end of the court it went and with 50 seconds left Ian Crosswhite scored two big points to put Oregon back on top. As the Bruins set up their offense, a quick touch foul was called on Ian Crosswhite, sending Ryan Hollins to the line with a chance to give UCLA the lead with 39 seconds left.

Hollins, a 38 percent free throw shooting freshman missed the first and made the second free throw. The game was tied. Oregon brought the ball down the floor and called a time out. They then set up their offense up high. It was going to be a high screen and roll with Luke Ridnour and Luke Jackson. After Jackson's screen, UCLA's defense forced Ridnour into making a tough decision. Ridnour took off into the air about 25 feet away from the basket. He had nowhere to go so he turned to Jackson and released the ball. Jackson was covered however, so Ridnour's pass was deflected and as Ridnour grabbed the ball, the shot clock expired leaving just four point two seconds left in the game.

UCLA inbounded the ball near half court to Ryan Walcott. The sophomore from Phoenix took the ball and dribbled the ball to the top of the key where he fired up an airball as time expired and with the score tied at 81.

(PHOTO RIGHT)UCLA's Cedric Bozeman (21) misses an alley-oop basket at the start of the overtime period as Oregon's Ian Crosswhite watches Thursday, Jan. 30, 2003, at Pauley Pavilion in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. Oregon won 96-91. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

In overtime the game changed from being the Luke Jackson Show to the Ian Crosswhite Offensive Extravaganza. Crosswhite led the Ducks with eight points in the five minute period. When Oregon needed a hoop in the extra time, Crosswhite got one. Crosswhite's basket with 1:19 left put Oregon up for good, 92-91. Four Luke Ridnour free throws sealed the deal as Oregon prevailed with a 96-91 victory.

"I thought Ian Crosswhite played one whale of a basketball game," Kent said.

The UCLA Bruins finished up with five players in double figures. Kapono finished with 21 points on 9-20 shooting. Dijon Thompson scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half. He also had three steals. Cedric Bozeman had 17 and Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey added 11 points each. Hollins also had seven blocks and 11 rebounds. Next up for UCLA is Oregon State on Saturday.

Oregon was led by Luke Jackson's 27 points in 35 minutes tonight. Jackson gave an effort that will be tough to ever beat. After seeing the ghastly cut on his hand last Thursday it did not look like Jackson would be available for the games this week. Not only was he available but he shined.

"I've never seen anything like Luke Jackson and what he did," Kent said. "As bad as his hand looked last week and for him to come out here and play 35 minutes get 27 points with literally one and a half hands. That will go down in my mind as one of the all-time gutsy performances."

Ian Crosswhite added 22 points and 12 rebounds off of 9-18 shooting. Davis and Ridnour also had 15 and 11 points respectively. Ridnour notched up another double-double with 10 assists to go along with those 11 points.

The Ducks' next test will be the USC Trojans. Oregon and USC will tipoff at noon on Sunday, February 2nd. The Trojans will be looking to avoid being swept by the Oregon schools. Oregon State beat USC tonight, 83-74.

"We didn't come here to win one game we want to get two," Kent said. "SC can mean a lot to us. If we can get that done and come home, we might be a freight train on the fast track. (We'll be) coming back to a sold out Pit with the Bay Area teams coming in for revenge games."

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