Hoops: Oregon scouting report

A look at the Ducks, UT's Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament opponent:

The two-seed, Pac-10 regular season champ Ducks enter Friday's contest with Texas at 25-8 overall after beating Montana handily (81-62) and Wake Forest in a close one (92-87) in the opening rounds of the NCAA Midwest Regional in Sacramento. Oregon has won eight of its last nine games with its only loss in that stretch coming to USC in the Pac-10 Tournament. Despite three straight early season losses to low caliber opposition (to 13-16 UMass, 6-24 Portland and 17-12 Minnesota), the Ducks rebounded with an outstanding record against tourney quality teams. UO played 12 games against NCAA qualifiers, winning nine of them -- Pepperdine, Arizona (twice), Cal, Stanford, UCLA (twice) and USC (twice) -- as it climbed up the national polls, eventually reaching a high of No. 9 before the loss to the Trojans in early March dropped the Ducks to No. 11. The rankings success came despite a low (for such a high seed) No. 34 RPI mark. Texas, of course, finished the season unranked but with a No. 22 RPI.

Oregon, despite its size, is an up-tempo team that will look for a quick pace and to score in transition. Transition defense is an area that the Horns have struggled with at times this season, although they played Kansas, one of the best transition teams in the country, straight up for 40 minutes in Austin in mid-February before falling to the Jayhawks in OT. The Ducks will also work to create scoring opportunities with penetration, shooting off the dribble, setting up one of the perimeter guys with an open look from the arc or feeding one of the guys in the paint for easy looks. "The system is designed for everyone to feed off it and get points," fifth-year Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. UO's offensive attack, though, is triggered by its Big Three, guards Luke Ridnour and Frederick Jones and swingman Luke Jackson.

The 6-2, 165-pound Ridnour averages 15.5 points, dishes out five assists and grabs three boards per game. The sophomore point guard is extremely difficult to guard because of his versatility. He can not only drive and dish, but he can and will pull up from beyond the arc and knock down the three. For the season, Ridnour hit 86 treys in 193 attempts (44.6-percent). Brandon Mouton, UT's biggest (and most accurate) three-point threat, made 65 of his 161 attempts (40.4-percent). Overall, the Ducks are the best three-point shooting team in the country at 42.5-percent from long range on the season. Texas averages 37-percent from three-point land.

The athletic Jones leads Oregon in scoring at 18.6 points per game. The 6-4, 209-pound senior shooting guard, an All-Pac-10 first team selection this season, also distributes (averaging 3.1 assists per game), boards (averaging 5.5 rebounds per game) and Ds (averaging almost two steals per game). Jones nails an impressive (for a guard) 52.1-percent of his shots overall and 37.8-percent from downtown. Over the Ducks' recent 8-1 nine-game stretch, Jones averaged 22.8 points per game, including a 24-point effort vs. the Demon Deacons, and he has scored in double figures in 25 straight games.

Jackson is the Ducks' second-leading scorer at 16.6 points per game, but like Ridnour and Jones, he is a multi-threat player. The 6-7, 215-pounder pulls down 5.2 boards, averages 3.1 assists and hits 40.4-percent of his three point attempts. Jackson scored 29 points against Wake Forest. Overall, Oregon's Big Three scored 81 of the team's 92 points against Wake.

If the Horns defensive strategy against Mississippi State is any indication, T.J. Ford and Fredie Williams (when not on the court together) will defend Ridnour, while Royal Ivey and Williams (when he's on the floor with T.J.) will get the defensive nod on Jones and Mouton and Sydmill Harris will try to stop Jackson on the wing. Those match-ups will put Texas at a size disadvantage at all three spots.

Oregon also will throw big bodies at the Horns in the paint. Robert Johnson, a 6-8, 235-pounder, starts at power forward for the Ducks and 7-2, 300-pound Chris Christoffersen mans the center position for the guys in green. Johnson leads the team in rebounding at 7.5 per game, matching his scoring average of 7.5. Christoffersen averages 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Eight Oregon players -- Ridnour (34.5), Jones (31.6), Jackson (30.4), Johnson (28.2), Christoffersen (21.3), Anthony Lever (15.7), Brian Helquist (13.5) and James Davis (13.2) -- average over 10 minutes per game, with three others turning in significant minutes off the bench. Lever, son of former NBA star "Fat" Lever, is the most dangerous Duck reserve. The senior shooting guard nailed an incredible 50 of 100 three-point attempts on the season. Davis can also knock down the trey, hitting 41.3-percent of his three point tries.

Along with its salty 42.5-percent from beyond the arc, Oregon also hits a healthy 48.9-percent overall from the field. Texas comes in with a 45.5-percent mark from the field through 33 games. The Ducks are also accurate from the line, converting 77.4-percent from the charity stripe on the season compared to the Horns' 68.8-percent. If the picture isn't clear already, here it is: UT's Sweet 16 opponent can shoot! And, consequently, it can score. Oregon averages 85.9 points per game, seven and a half points better than the Horns.

The Ducks breezed through their home schedule with a perfect 16-0 mark, but away from the friendly confines, Oregon managed just a 9-8 mark. Texas, by contrast, performed equally well at home or on the road, finishing 10-5 in Austin and 12-6 away from the Erwin Center.

Horns Digest Top Stories