Ducks Look to go 5-0 at UMass

Nov. 26, 2001

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WHAT'S ON TAP . . . Oregon returns to New England for the first time in 21 years when the Ducks meet Massachusetts Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. (PST) at the Springfield, Mass., Civic Center. Oregon's last venture to the Colonies came during the 1980-81 season under coach Jim Haney when the Ducks dropped a 67-66 game at Rhode Island. The Oregon Sports Network will broadcast the game live to the state of Oregon.

TENTATIVE OREGON STARTERS

F	3	Robert Johnson	6-8	235	Jr.	10.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.3 apgF	33	Luke Jackson	6-7	215	So.	10.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.8 apgC	25	Chris Christoffersen	7-2	300	Sr.	12.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 bpgG	13	Luke Ridnour	6-2	165	So.	13.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.3 apgG	20	Frederick Jones	6-4	209	Sr.	14.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg

QUICK HITS...A brief look at what to watch for Tuesday:

Battle of the boards. Both teams are out-rebounding their opponents by about 10 rebounds a game. The Ducks hold a 40.8-30.3 edge, while the Minutemen are at 41.0-31.5.

Defense. Both teams are rather stingy when it comes to giving up points. Oregon is allowing just 57.5 points per game (compared to 71.5 through the first four games of 2000-01), while UMass is allowing just 59.5 after two games.

How's this for balance: through the first four games, seven Ducks are averaging at least nine points per game, and no one is averaging more than 14.0 points per game.

Further evidence of the above point: So far, a different player has led Oregon in scoring through the first four games. Against Alabama State sophomore guard James Davis led the way with a career-high 18 points, including six-of-eight from three-point land. Senior center Chris Christoffersen scored a career-high 18 points against Western Michigan, hitting seven-of-10 from the floor. Then Pac-10 freshman of the year Luke Ridnour scored a career-high 18 points in Oregon's win over Long Beach State. Finally, senior guard Frederick Jones kept that streak alive with a season-high 20 versus Louisville.

Jones, who became the 22nd 1,000-point scorer at UO in the season opener, has two MVP awards already this season (America's Youth Classic and the Pape Jam). He was also the co-MVP (along with Bryan Bracey) of last year's Pape Jam after scoring 23 points in Oregon's 91-76 win over UMass.

Jones continues to move up the scoring list, taking over the No. 19 spot in the win over Louisville. At 1,050 career points, he's 32 points shy of 18th, 37 away from 17th and 40 out of 16th.

The two JC transfers are making a tremendous impact up front. Robert Johnson has three 10-rebound games in his first four outings as a Duck and leads the team at 8.8 boards per game. Johnson debuted with a double-double -- 14 points and 10 rebounds -- against Alabama State and was named to the America's Youth Classic all-tournament team. Brian Helquist scored a season-best 10 points against Louisville and is second on the team at 5.8 rebounds per game.

Jones entered the UO career top five in steals during the Long Beach State game and now has 94. He need three more for fourth place.

Jones moved into the UO career top five in blocked shots against Alabama State, and enters the UMass game with 58, needing five more for fourth place.

Jones moves into sixth in UO career 3 FG with six more.

Jones moves into seventh in career assists with nine more.

Christoffersen entered the UO top 10 in career blocks against Alabama State, and now has 42, he'll move into ninth with one more.

Senior guard Anthony Lever enters the UO career top 10 with 11 more 3 FG.

UNDER THE RADAR . . . Some things you might have overlooked in the first four games:

Only one player -- Luke Ridnour -- has scored in double figures in all four games.

Coming off the bench, senior guard Anthony Lever is shooting an amazing 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from three-point range.

HEAD COACH ERNIE KENT . . . Ernie Kent (Oregon '77) is in his fifth year at Oregon. He has a 72-49 ledger with the Ducks and an 11-year career record of 162-129. He was an assistant coach for the 2001 USA Basketball 21-and-Under team that won the gold medal at the summer games in Japan. He also holds posts on the NCAA Basketball Issues Committee and is a member of the NABC's Board of Directors.

Kent won his 150th game as a collegiate head coach Dec. 12, 2000, versus Illinois-Chicago (110-87). He has won more games in his first four seasons as Oregon's head coach (68) than any other Oregon mentor since Howard Hobson (93) from 1935-36 through 1938-39. The former six-year Saint Mary's (Calif.) coach led the Ducks to the NCAA Tournament in 1999-00 and accomplished some pretty impressive feats along the way: 22 wins was the school's most in 55 years, 13 Pac-10 wins was the most in school history, the first road triumph over a Top 25 opponent since 1977 (67-66 neutral-court win over Wake Forest), a win over the highest-ranked foe since 1995 with the 86-81 upset of No. 3 Arizona. In 1998-99, Kent took the Ducks to a 19-13 mark and a trip to New York City for the NIT Final Four. Prior to St. Mary's, he served two-year tenures as an assistant at Stanford (1990-91) and Colorado State (1988-89).

LUCKY SEVEN . . . Under Ernie Kent, Oregon is 18-11 in its last 29 games decided by seven points or less.

COACHING STAFF . . . Assistant Greg Graham is in his fifth season, while Scott Duncan is in his second season. Fred Litzenberger is in his first season after spending the last six years with the Oregon women. Mark Hudson is in his fifth year with the program, but is in his first as director of basketball operations.

REMEMBER THE 90s? . . . For just the second time in school history, Oregon has scored 90 or more points in four straight games. The only other time that happened was 32 years ago when Steve Belko's 1969-70 squad posted 98 points against California, 92 versus Stanford, 121 against Portland and 92 against USC from Feb. 13-20.

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES...Anthony Lever, formerly Anthony Norwood, changed his last name to that of his natural father, former Arizona State and NBA star Lafayette 'Fat' Lever, during the summer. Walk-on senior guard Kristian Christensen will be wearing No. 21 -- the same number he wore as a freshman -- after donning No. 12 the last two years.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING . . . Here's a look at Oregon's returning leaders in each statistical category:

Points Frederick Jones 14.8Rebounds Frederick Jones 5.6Assists Luke Ridnour 3.8Blocked Shots Chris Christoffersen 0.7Steals Frederick Jones 1.1FG Pct. Frederick Jones .4723FG Pct. Ben Lindquist .381FT Pct. Ben Lindquist .850Minutes Frederick Jones 31.9

RAG TAG . . . Here's a look at where several preseason magazines and other services rank the Ducks in the Pac-10, and in the nation:

Source Pac-10 NationalThe Sporting News 8 66Basketball News 8 --Lindy's 7 --ESPN.com 7 --Street & Smith's 7 --Athlon 7 NIT

BASKETBALL JONES . . . Senior guard Frederick Jones is the only player in school history ranked among Oregon's career top eight in three-point field goals, assists, blocks and steals. A preseason all-Pac-10 pick by ESPN.com (along with Casey Jacobsen of Stanford, Jason Kapono of UCLA, Sam Clancy of USC and Jason Gardner of Arizona), Jones became the 22nd member of Oregon's 1,000-point club in the season opener against Alabama State. Jones was an all-Pac-10 honorable mention selection a year ago after averaging 14.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

ADD JONES . . . Joe Dwyer of FOXSports.com has tabbed Jones and Marist's Sean Kennedy as the two vastly underrated players that he will keep track of in a weekly watch. Coincidentally, UMass plays those two teams back-to-back.

AFTER RID-NIGHT . . . Luke Ridnour became the first player in Oregon history to be named Pac-10 freshman of the year. He averaged 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. 'Rid' was the first true freshman to start at the point for Oregon since Kenya Wilkins in 1993-94 and posted an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of 106-to-67.

ABOUT MASSACHUSETTS . . . UMass is 2-0 after wins over Arkansas-Little Rock (66-60) and Marist (66-59). The Minutemen have relied on big men Kitwana Rhymer (10.5 points per game) and Micah Brand (16.5 ppg) and talented wing Shannon Crooks (15.0 ppg) for nearly two-thirds of their scoring through their first two games Defense has been the name of the game in UMass' first two wins with opponents shooting just 34.5 percent from the field. The Minutemen also hold a 41.0-31.5 rebounding edge.

TENTATIVE MASSACHUSETTS STARTERS

F	1	Willie Jenkins	6-6	200	So.	5.5 ppg, 6.5 rpgF	40	Micah Brand	6-11	243	Jr.	16.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apgC	33	Kitwana Rhymer	6-10	256	Sr.	10.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.0 bpgG	12	Anthony Anderson	5-11	175	So.	7.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.5 apgG	30	Shannon Crooks	6-2	222	Sr.	15.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.0 apg

LAST YEAR VS. MASSACHUSETTS . . . Bryan Bracey had a career-high 24 points and Frederick Jones added 23 as Oregon improved to 5-0 for only the second time in 26 years by defeating Massachusetts 91-76 Dec. 2, 2000, at the Pape Jam, played the Rose Garden in Portland. Massachusetts was led by Monty Mack's 26 points, but he had just six in the second half. Micah Brand added 19. Anthony Norwood (now Lever) added 12 points as Oregon scored a season-high 50 in the first half and withstood a sloppy second half plagued by fouls and turnovers. The Minutemen were outrebounded 34-26. UMass trailed by 10 at halftime, and stayed within striking distance for much of the second half. But the team hurt itself badly with two mental mistakes that resulted in a six-point possession for the Ducks. With Oregon ahead 58-52, UMass' Jackie Rogers was called for an intentional foul on Jones, who made both free throws. The Minutemen's Eric Williams was then whistled for a technical after throwing an elbow at Norwood, who made two more from the line. Oregon kept the ball, and Jones made a mid-range jumper for a 64-52 lead with 9:42 to go. UMass got within 67-62, but the Ducks put it away with consecutive jumpers by Ben Lindquist and Bracey with 5:54 left.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS . . . A trio of Ducks are climbing the Oregon career charts. Frederick Jones and Chris Christoffersen will both end their careers among the UO career top 10 in blocked shots, while Jones will leave a larger legacy in many statistical categories.

Jones is now ranked in the career top eight in four categories: three-point field goals, assists, blocks and steals. During the Alabama State game, he had two blocks to pass Jerry Adams (57/1981-86) with 58 career. He is now five back of No. 4 Brett Coffey (59/1987-89). Jones had three steals against Louisville to give him 94 career, passing Felton Sealey (91/1977-81) for fifth. He need four more steals to pass former teammate A.D. Smith (97/1995-00) for fourth. His 98 career three-point field goals are six behind No. 6 Alex Scales (104/1998-00). And his 270 career assists rank eighth, nine short of No. 7 Mike Barwig (279/1972-76).

Jones is also poised to make a major climb into the UO career scoring list. He scored 20 points against Louisville to tally 1,050 career points and pass No. 19 Glenn Moore (1,033/1959-63). Jones needs 33 points to pass Mike Clark (1,082/1977-81).

Chris Christoffersen entered the career top 10 in blocks with two against Alabama State and is now 10th with 42, just one back of former teammate, Julius Hicks (43/1999-01).

Anthony Lever needs nine three-point field goals to reach the top 10.

ALABAMA STATE RECAP . . . The Ducks won their tenth straight season opener by defeating Alabama State 92-52 Thursday. That streak is second in the Pac-10 to Stanford's 13. James Davis scored a career-high 18 points off the bench, while Robert Johnson impressed in his Duck debut with a double-double: 14 points and 10 rebounds. Five Ducks were in double figures and all but one who played scored at least two points. Oregon held the Hornets to just 52 points, that was the lowest total allowed in a season-opener by Oregon in 19 years (UC San Diego, 63-46 to open the 1982-83 season).

WESTERN MICHIGAN RECAP . . . Oregon's defense continued to shine, allowing the Broncos to score just 48 points -- matching the lowest total given up in coach Ernie Kent's five years at his alma mater -- in a 91-48 victory. Chris Christoffersen scored a career-high 18 points on seven-of-10 shooting from the floor. Anthony Lever came off the bench to add 15 points, including four-of-five three-pointers, while Luke Ridnour scored 12 points and Frederick Jones added 11 points and six assists. Robert Johnson just missed his second straight double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds, while another newcomer, Brian Helquist neared a double-double as well with eight points and nine rebounds. The Ducks held the Broncos to just 30 percent from the floor (18-of-60) and outrebounded the smaller Broncos 46-26.

LONG BEACH STATE RECAP . . . Luke Ridnour had a career-high 18 points and seven assists as Oregon remained undefeated this season with a 97-67 win against Long Beach State in the America's Youth Classic. Tournament MVP Frederick Jones added a season-high 16 points, Chris Christoffersen 11 and Luke Jackson 10 points and eight rebounds. For the third straight game, the Ducks held the rebound advantage (35-33) and made more than half their field-goal attempts (35-65) en route to their highest point total of the young season. Oregon had scoring runs of 9-0 and 18-0 to start the game as it took an early 27-5 lead. James Davis came off the bench to score eight of the final 10 points in the last run, while the 49ers countered with only two field goals in the first 13 minutes of the game. Long Beach State fought its way back into the game, however, scoring 22 points in the final seven minutes, including nine from James Williams, who led the 49ers with 17 overall. But Oregon still maintained a 44-27 advantage at the break, and took little time extending it once the second half started, taking a 30-point lead on a three-pointer by Anthony Lever that made it 69-39 at the 11:25 mark and the teams played evenly until the end. Joining Jones on the all-tournament team were Oregon's Robert Johnson, the 49ers' Williams, Joey Ball of Alabama State and Steve Reynold of Western Michigan.

LOUISVILLE RECAP . . . Frederick Jones scored 20 points, and Oregon got some unusually strong play from its big men to dominate Rick Pitino's Louisville team 90-63. Robert Johnson added 10 rebounds for the Ducks, who have won their games by a combined 140 points but needed to face a good opponent like Louisville to show how much they've improved over last season's 14-14 team. Erik Brown scored 20 points and Ellis Myles had 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead Louisville. Center Chris Christoffersen, a 7-foot-2, 300-pound Dane who's still learning the game, had 13 points, including six during a quick 8-2 run to start the second half, when the Ducks expanded their lead to 24. Christoffersen, who averaged just 3.3 points and 9.0 minutes last season, put a spin move on Myles along the baseline for a layup and a free throw that made it 68-43 with 9:52 left. Oregon actually started pulling away midway through the first half, when Louisville was within 17-16. Luke Jackson made a 3-pointer, and reserve forward Brian Helquist had three inside baskets to keep the run going. Two free throws and a 3-pointer by Luke Ridnour ended a 22-9 surge that put Oregon ahead 48-30 at halftime. Helquist, a 6-foot-9 transfer from Florida Community College in Jacksonville, had 10 points. The 6-8 Johnson, who came from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, had only eight points, but his and Helquist's play freed up the outside shooters. Luke Ridnour had 13 points.

-goducks.com-

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