Oregon Makes Statement Against Kansas

Dec 7, 2002

AP Sports Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. - For Luke Ridnour, it was like March in December. Onlybetter.

Ridnour had 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds Saturday as No. 7Oregon avenged last season's NCAA Tournament loss with an 84-78 victorySaturday over No. 14 Kansas.

'This was like a March game,' Ridnour marveled. 'It will be good for usdown the road.'

Fellow guard Luke Jackson had 26 points and nine rebounds for the Ducks(5-0), who fought off a second-half Kansas rally.

'I'd like to call it a statement game,' said coach Ernie Kent, who earnedhis 99th win at Oregon. 'It felt like a postseason atmosphere.'

Kirk Hinrich led the Jayhawks (3-3) with 24 points and Keith Langford added21 in the rematch between the two teams, played before 20,762 fans atPortland's Rose Garden Arena.

Last season, the teams met in the Midwest Regional final in Madison, Wis.,and Kansas emerged with a 104-86 victory and their first trip to the Final Foursince 1993.

'They did put us out last year,' Ridnour said. 'And that sticks with youall summer.'

Luke Ridnour, center, and Luke Jackson, left, receive the player of the game award after defeating Kansas 74-68. The two shared the award.

The victory snapped Oregon's three-game losing streak against Kansas. TheDucks had not defeated the Jayhawks since beating them twice in the 1947-48season.

The Ducks, who led by just four at the half, stretched their lead to as manyas 11 points when Andre Joseph's free throws made it 72-61 with 8:40 left.

But the Jayhawks came back to tie it at 74-all on Langford's layup with 3:39left.

Speedy Oregon inched away, going on a 10-2 run that was punctuated byRidnour's 3-pointer and a foul shot that made it 84-76 with 49.6 seconds left.

Kansas guard Michael Lee, who went to high school in Portland, made a tip-inwith 23 seconds left for the final margin.

Nick Collison, who gave the Ducks so much trouble with 25 points and 15rebounds last year in the tournament, got into early foul trouble early andplayed sporadically. He finished with seven points and four rebounds in 24minutes.

The Ducks built their lead to as many as 14 points in the first half whenRidnour's 3-pointer made it 39-25 with 5:27 left. After the shot, Ridnourraised his hands to the crowd, eliciting a rousing ovation.

One fan borrowed a line from 'Star Wars' to cheer on Oregon's two Lukes,lofting a sign that said 'Use the Force, Lukes.'

'We had a sour taste from last year's loss and from them beating us up downlow,' Jackson said. 'For our guys to dominate from the beginning was good forus.'

But Kansas whittled away, cutting Oregon's lead to just 47-43 at the half.

Hinrich was back for the Jayhawks after sitting out their decisive 97-70victory over Central Missouri State on Wednesday night with a strained back.

He had a scare in the second half when he left the court limping, but hereturned after treatment on the bench.

Kansas was already reeling from losses in the Preseason NIT to NorthCarolina and Florida. After Oregon, the Jayhawks play on the road against No.19 Tulsa on Wednesday.

'It was a tough atmosphere and to hang in there was good for this team,'Kansas coach Roy Williams said. 'But we're not into moral victories. Neverhave been, never will be.'

The game was played as part of the fifth annual Pape Jam. The crowd wasestimated to be the largest ever to attend a college basketball game in thestate of Oregon.

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