Ducks Seek Best Pac-10 Start In 63 Years

Jan 23, 2002

SEATTLE (AP) - Although Oregon is known for its high-powered offense, it's the Ducks'improved defense that has been the key to their success this season.

The 19th-ranked Ducks look to surpass their win total from all of lastseason when they visit struggling Washington in a Pac-10 matchup.

Oregon (14-4, 6-1) is allowing 66.7 points through 18 games this season,compared to 76.1 at the same point last season. The improved defense has helpedthe Ducks win six of their first seven league games, matching the second-beststart in school history.

Oregon also began 6-1 in the Pac-10 in 1999-00, but a win Thursday wouldgive the Ducks their first 7-1 league mark since their NCAA championship seasonof 1938-39. Oregon opened 11-1 in the Pacific Coast Conference that season.

A 63-51 victory over archrival Oregon State on Sunday was the fourthstraight for the Ducks and kept them tied with Southern California atop thePac-10.

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

Frederick Jones scored 16 points and Luke Jackson added 15, as the Ducksexceeded 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.'

Since losing three straight early in the season to Massachusetts, Portlandand Minnesota, Oregon is 10-1 and has won its games by an average of 20.5points. The Ducks are the highest-scoring team in the Pac-10, and are sixth inthe country at 85.1 points per game.

Washington (7-11, 1-7) seeks to end a three-game losing streak following anugly 105-60 loss at Stanford on Saturday.

The lone bright spot for the Huskies was the play of senior center DavidDixon, who recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and16 rebounds. Dixon already has 42 blocks in 2001-02, the fourth-highestsingle-season total in school history.

'I'm just out there battling,' Dixon said. 'The numbers add up in theend.'

Washington has dropped nine of 10 overall, and is winless in five gamesagainst ranked opponents.

Oregon and Washington split the last two season series, each winning on theother's home court.

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