Ducks Snap Five Game Slide, Defeat Bruins

Sparked by the play of Matt Humphrey and E.J. Singler in the second half and overtime, the Oregon men were able to outlast the UCLA Bruins Thursday night in a 71-66 victory at McArthur Court. The win lifted the Ducks to 11-9, 3-5 in conference, potentially marking the return of confident play.

It wasn't easy, but they found a way to win. On a night where Oregon honored former Duck basketball player Larry Holliday and UCLA legend Bill Walton, the Ducks mercifully snapped a five game conference losing streak that had as much a negative impact on the team's psyche as it did to its position in the Pac-10 standings. Tonight however, activity wasn't mistaken for achievement, rather it spurred the Ducks to a much needed win over a Bruin squad that has seemingly had Oregon's number the past couple of seasons. The reminiscent energy, passion, and ear-splitting noise level returned to Mac Court after an ostensible absence; feeding a team that appeared eager to shake the stench of their losing ways. After the game, Oregon head coach Ernie Kent attributed his team's terrific effort to the spirit and liveliness of the crowd and in particular, the Pit Crew.

"With about eight minutes previous to the start of the game and us coming upstairs, we heard that familiar pounding on our locker room door from the Pit Crew," said Kent, "We brought the Pit Crew in to our locker room and that's a tradition we'll do from here on out.

"I thought they were outstanding in our locker room pre-game singing the Oregon fight song and getting these guys out the door with a tremendous amount of energy and really, really lifting their spirits."

Kent's warm sentiments for the crowd were echoed by members of the team.

"Mac Court is home," said Oregon guard Matt Humphrey, "A lot of people have been through here and we should have pride for this building.

"That's all we've been talking about all week is coming through for a win at Mac Court. We're closing it out here and we should close it out right."

Humphrey, along with senior guard Tajuan Porter, led the Ducks with 15 points Thursday night. Humphrey's play seemed to be particularly inspiring for a team that has undoubtedly lacked inspiration as of late. Coming off an early season knee injury, Humphrey was lost on the bench and his contributions were minimal at best, yet when opportunity knocked for the Chicago native this evening, he was quick to answer. His sharp shooting from beyond the arc in the second half and particularly in overtime, gave the Ducks the boost they needed to secure victory.

"I was just getting my feet set and shooting," said Humphrey of the go-ahead three he hit in overtime, "The opportunity was there and I just let it fly. I didn't realize that it put us up like that until I looked at the scoreboard afterwards.

"This was a breakthrough game and I've been working really hard to get back from my injury. This has been a tough, tough year for me so this is just showing me that my hard work is paying off and the team's hard work is paying off too."

Junior forward Jeremy Jacob was the third Oregon player in double-figures tonight as he found himself contributing double-figure points for a third consecutive game, chipping in 11 points and five rebounds in 37 minutes of action. Additionally, the play of freshman forward E.J. Singler and sophomore guard Malcolm Armstead was also vital to the Ducks etching another "W" in the win column. For Singler, all eight of his points came in overtime, while Armstead was remarkably steady throughout the contest, scoring five points to go along with six rebounds, four steals, and 12 assists against only two turnovers. All of this in spite of the fact Armstead had approximately 30 CC's of fluid drained from his knee earlier in the day.

"I thought Malcolm played a superb game," said Kent, "Malcolm had his knee drained and to be able to come in to a game and play like he did...I thought that a was tremendous job on his part as far as leadership."

UCLA was paced by four players in double-figures, two of which who registered double-doubles in Nikola Dragovic (19 points 10 rebounds) and Tyler Honeycutt (13 points 10 rebounds). Bruin senior guard Michael Roll and freshman forward Reeves Nelson scored 16 points and 11 points respectively, with Roll's three-pointer with just seconds to go in regulation serving as the basket that took the game to overtime.

The Ducks face the USC Trojans (12-8, 4-4) Saturday afternoon at McArthur Court. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m.

Notes: Junior forward LeKendric Longmire was absent from the Oregon bench this evening. According to Kent, Longmire has continued to struggle with his academic responsibilities which led to his absence from the team tonight. Kent stated that Longmire is currently eligible to play, however he must live up to the academic standards put in place by Kent and the rest of the coaching staff in order to be fully reinstated. Sophomore center Michael Dunigan also missed much of the second half due to severe cramping. Coach Kent said Dunigan was being administered fluids intravenously after the game and expects him to be fit to play versus USC on Saturday.

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