Rocky Road

After a nice, solid road win on Thursday night at Washington State, the University of Oregon Ducks moved on to Seattle and the University of Washington Huskies. Oregon proved to be up to their old tricks, losing another road game, 78-66 in Hec Ed Pavilion.<BR><BR><I>Washington's Will Conroy drives for a basket between Oregon's Luke Ridnour (13) and Luke Jackson (33) during the second half in Seattle, Saturday. Conroy scored 31 points as Washington beat Oregon 78-66. (AP Photo/Jim Bryant)</i>

For the last two seasons, Oregon (18-7, 8-6) has been dubbed a team that could not win on the road. Last year they quieted their critics with huge wins at USC and UCLA to close out the season. This year, the Ducks have again struggled to win games on the road, falling to teams like Cincinnati, Stanford, California, USC and now Washington. This loss puts the Oregon road record at 5-5.

After one or two big wins, the Ducks have fallen apart and lost on the road to teams that probably should not beat them. Oregon has lost these road games for a great number of reasons, but today, it was a lack of intensity, offensive firepower and the trend of the big men disappearing in games that did the Ducks in.

The Huskies (9-15, 4-11) jumped all over the Ducks early, opening up a 23-9 lead with just over 10:00 to play in the first half. Oregon was so very cold from the floor, missing nearly every shot they took.

"We got good looks at the bucket but didn't shoot the ball very well," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent told OSN.

(PHOTO RIGHT)Oregon's Ian Crosswhite (11) drives in for a basket between Washington's Mike Jensen (42) and Jeffery Day (4) during the first half Saturday, Feb. 22, 2003, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jim Bryant)

Washington's Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy and Curtis Allen were all over the place, allowing the Huskies to control most of the first half. Then, Oregon came back. The Ducks put together an 11-2 run to end the period, capped off by two Brian Helquist free throws with 1:58 to go that cut the Washington lead to 33-31. However, in the next two minutes, Oregon blew two chances to stay within one possession of the Huskies.

First, Oregon forward Robert Johnson turned the ball over inside with a chance to tie the game, which was followed by a Will Conroy three pointer that gave Washington a five point lead. On Oregon's next possession, Ian Crosswhite and Luke Ridnour were pressured enough by the Husky defense that a shot clock violation was called just moments before the game clock expired. As the teams went to the locker rooms, Washington led 36-31.

In the second half, Oregon kept the game close behind the scoring of James Davis and the poor shooting of the Washington Huskies. The Ducks actually held the lead three times in the early going of the second half. Momentum was in oregon's pocket and it looked like they might run with it.

Washington soon found their shooting touch though, and went on a 9-0 run that culminated with a Curtis Allen three pointer with 3:07 left. That Allen dagger gave the Huskies a 64-54 lead and the ballgame.

The Ducks shot an abysmal 21-63 from the floor today, a 33 per-cent mark. That is just three percent better than the Oregon State Beavers shot in Oregon's blow out win in Corvallis last Saturday. The Huskies on the other hand were 30-60 from the floor, garnering a 50 percent mark.

Oregon's big men once again had a rough game. In a combined 81 minutes, Robert Johnson, Ian Crosswhite, Matt Short, Brian Helquist and Jay Anderson scored a total of 17 points and grabbed only 18 rebounds. They also shot a combined 5-18 from the floor.

On the boards today, Washington out-rebounded the Ducks 38-36. Although this stat is fairly close, the Huskies were truly the more aggressive team, taking it to the Ducks when going for loose balls, playing defense, and other purely hustle plays.

"Sometimes the game goes to the aggressor and they were the aggressor the entire game," Kent said. "They were a lot more aggressive than us during the entire game."

(PHOTO LEFT)Oregon's Andre Joseph (35) drives in for a layup before being fouled by Washington's Will Conroy (5) during the first period Saturday, Feb. 22, 2003, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jim Bryant)

Curtis Allen led the Huskies in scoring today, going 6-8 from the floor and picking up 17 points. Will Conroy added 15 in 31 minutes. Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy and Doug Wrenn had 14, 13 and 10 points respectively.

The Ducks only had three players in double figures tonight, which is odd for this team that likes to spread the ball around so much. Luke Ridnour had 20 points, James Davis had 15 and Ian Corsswhite had 14 tonight.

In this frustrating game for the Ducks, Luke Ridnour's free throw record was also snapped. With 1:30 to go in the game, Ridnour missed the first of two shots at the line, ending his consecutive free throw streak at 62, a new Pac-10 record. That was Ridnour's first missed free throw since the January 4th game against Arizona State.

Washington will next play Washington State on March 1st. This game will be very important for the Huskies as they look to hold on to the 8th seed in the Pac-10 Tournament.

An old rival will pull into Eugene on Thursday as the Ducks will take on the USC Trojans. Tip-off for that game will be at 5:30. Oregon will need wins in most of their remaining four games in order to ensure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

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