When You're Hot, You're Hot

After a big win against Stanford on Thursday, the No. 23 University of Oregon Ducks came into today's game with the California Golden Bears looking for a sweep over the Bay Area teams. It looked good for the Ducks early, but they went cold in the second half when the Bears got hot. <BR><BR><i>California's Brian Wethers, right, strips the ball from Oregon's Luke Ridnour as Oregon's Robert Johnson watches on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003, at McArthur Court in Eugene, OR. (AP/Brian Davies)</I>

After grabbing a 36-34 lead at the half, the Ducks (16-6, 6-5) came out in the second half and started hitting some shots. Cal (16-4, 9-2) though, kept fighting and didn't allow Oregon to open up a lead larger than four points. Cal held a 53-46 lead when Oregon guard Luke Ridnour put up the perfect pass to roommate Luke Jackson for an ally-oop. This cut the Cal lead to five points, but it was the last Oregon score for over six minutes.

Cal's 11-0 run put them up for good. The men of Oregon continued to battle, playing tough defense and forcing Cal turnovers, but never could get into striking distance for a long period of time.

"Our team kept fighting and we showed a lot of heart even though we didn't get it done," Ridnour said. "That's something to build on right there."

(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon's Ian Crosswhite, left, smothers California's David Paris during the first half at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003, as Oregon's James David, right, trails on the play. (AP Photo/Brian Davies)

Speaking of heart, Ridnour showed a lot of it tonight especially on one play in particular. Cal star Amit Tamir stole the ball and took off towards the hoop at the other end. Right when he was about to go up for a dunk, Luke Ridnour, who had flown down court in pursuit of Tamir, knocked the ball out of his hands, off his knee and out of bounds, giving the ball back to Oregon.

The closest Oregon got to Cal was six points with just under 3:00 left. Luke Ridnour, trying to play the role of hero pulled up for a three pointer that made the score 71-65. However, Cal guard Richard Midgley hit two free throws soon thereafter and Oregon's hopes were gone.

(PHOTO LEFT) California's Gabriel Hughes shoots over Oregon's Matt Short on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003, in Eugene, Ore. California won 86-75. (AP Photo/Brian Davies)

In that second half, Oregon shot a miserable 14-38 from the field, garnering them a 36.8% mark for that period. The Cal Bears, in that same period, were 13-19, which is 68.4%. Cal also was 23-31 on free throws in the second half while the Ducks were 8-9. These numbers show that the squad from Berkley was able to get into their offense and break the Ducks down, getting shots that they could hit.

"Our patience was better in the second half and we were a little more aggressive," Cal coach Ben Braun said.

Cal's charge was led by Joe Shipp who had 23 points on 7-12 shooting tonight. Brian Weathers also had 21 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes. Amit Tamir and Richard Midgley were both big for Cal tonight, scoring 18 and 12 points respectively.

"Our goal was to go out there and limit two of their big three," Oregon center Matt Short said. "We slowed down Tamir compared to what he usually does against us but Weathers and Shipp were phenomenal."

(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon's Brian Helquist, right, defends against California's David Paris under the basket Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003, at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Brian Davies)

The Ducks top point man tonight was Luke Ridnour who had 19 points and seven assists. He was only 6-20 from the floor in 37 minutes. Andre Joseph had another solid game scoring 12 points, all of them in the first half. James Davis finished with 11 points in 26 minutes. Matt Short, the freshman center from Yreka scored a career high 11 points in 26 minutes.

It was tough for the Ducks tonight when two of their top offensive players finished short of double figures. Luke Jackson scored nine points in 35 minutes of play while Ian Crosswhite scored only four points in nine minutes.

Cal's next game will be on Thursday against the Washington State Cougars in Berkley at 7:00. The Bears will look to run their Pac10 record to 10-2.

(PHOTO LEFT) California's Brian Wethers drives between Oregon's Luke Ridnour, left, and Luke Jackson during on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003, at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Brian Davies)

Oregon will travel north to Corvallis next Saturday. It will be yet another Civil War and it should be as good as ever. Oregon State has been playing very well and will be playing at home. It will be a test for the Ducks. Saturday's game will start at 6:00pm and will be broadcast on BSN.

"Oregon State has been playing great," Ridnour said. "It will be a battle when we go there. It is a great place to play there and it is a game we've got to have, so we need to be ready to go."

Stats from www.goducks.com.


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