No. 23 Ducks Take Care Of Oregon State, 63-51

Jan 20, 2002

By LANDON HALL
AP Sports Writer

CORVALLIS, Ore. - After looking upward at the top Pac-10 teams all oflast season, Oregon is enjoying the view from its unexpectedly high perch thisyear.

Frederick Jones scored 16 points and Robert Johnson had 11 rebounds as the23rd-ranked Ducks stayed tied for first place in the conference with a 63-51victory over Oregon State on Saturday night.

'We've got a target on us now,' Oregon coach Ernie Kent said, 'but that'sOK. There's no pressure there. We just want to run with this thing.'

Luke Jackson added 15 points for the Ducks (14-4, 6-1), who are surprisingcontenders as they near the midpoint of the conference schedule. Oregon is tiedwith Southern California for first.

The Ducks already have exceeded their conference win total from last season,when they were 5-13.

'Our goal was to win the Pac-10, and it still is,' Jackson said. 'We'repleased with where we are, but we also realize that this team has a lot ofgrowth.'

Oregon is 6-1 in its conference for only the second time since the 1938-39season, when the Ducks won the national championship. The other time was twoyears ago, when they reached the NCAA tournament.

Since losing three straight early in the season to Massachusetts, Portlandand Minnesota, Oregon is 10-1, winning its games by an average of 20.5 points.

'Those three losses toughened us as a basketball team,' Kent said. 'I'mnot saying we're there yet, but we're certainly on our way.'

Philip Ricci had 12 points and seven rebounds to lead Oregon State (8-9,1-6), which has lost six straight to its rival and 16 of 17.

The Beavers, who haven't had a winning season since 1989-90 - Gary Payton'ssenior year - are fighting to avoid being the bottom two teams in the Pac-10and getting left out of the conference tournament.

'We're not that bad of a team,' said Oregon State's Brian Jackson, held tojust six points because of early foul trouble.

Oregon led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but Brandon Payton -Gary's half brother - sank a 3-pointer to cap a 10-1 run and pull the Beaverswithin 51-44 with just under eight minutes remaining. But they got no closer.

Oregon, which came in as the top-scoring team in the Pac-10, and fourth-bestin the country, at 86.4 points per game, built a 14-2 lead as the Beaversmissed their first seven shots. The Ducks' fast start was highlighted by asoaring, two-handed reverse dunk by Jones, on a fastbreak lob from LukeRidnour.

The Beavers were hobbled early by the usual foul trouble of Jackson, whooutdid himself by picking up two offensive fouls in the first 90 seconds.

'We need Brian on the floor to win,' Oregon State coach Ritchie McKaysaid.

Still, Oregon State started getting the ball inside to Ricci, who led theBeavers back by scoring eight points during a 13-4 run. However, the Beaverserred by trying to run with the Ducks and not taking as much time off the clockas possible on each possession.

Instead, the Beavers - last in the Pac-10 in scoring at just under 67 pointsa game - settled for long shots, which gave Oregon some easy transitionchances.

'The shots were a little too quick, but that's something were going to haveto learn,' Oregon State guard Adam Masten said. 'It's not something you cando against a good, high-powered offense like Oregon has.'

Oregon reserve Anthony Lever started a 10-2 run with a 3-pointer, and theDucks led 34-22 at halftime. Oregon shot 56 percent in the half, while OregonState shot 29 percent.

Oregon State did a better job of getting into Oregon's passing lanes in thesecond half, which was a 29-all stalemate.

'They slowed us down a little bit, but we feel that we're a good halfcourtteam too,' Jones said.

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