Thursday , Dec , 28 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Ducks try to soar past Pilots

Eugene, OR (Sports Network) – McArthur Court in Eugene is the site of
today’s non-conference clash between the 20th-ranked Oregon Ducks and the
University of Portland Pilots.

Not much has gone right for Portland thus far, as the team has lost 11 of its
14 games to date. Eight of the 11 setbacks have come by double figures, and
all eight tilts away from home have ended in losses. On a positive note, the
Pilots did manage to snap an eight-game losing skid with a 61-58 triumph over
Montana on Friday.

Still, Oregon represents a considerable leap in competition level, and
the Ducks are a perfect 11-0 and will attempt to move to 12-0 for the first
time in 60 years. Through Tuesday, the Ducks were one of only four remaining
unbeaten Division I teams. Many of the team’s victories have come against
weak competition, and an 84-64 romp over Mercer on Saturday certainly fits
that category.

Oregon holds a 46-9 series advantage over Portland, but the Pilots did
post an 80-72 victory over the Ducks in last season’s meeting.

Don’t expect Portland to light it up at the offensive end tonight, as the
squad is only scoring 58.1 ppg on 40.4 percent shooting from the floor,
including 27.7 percent from three-point range. The Pilots have turned the ball
over almost 250 times in 14 games, a contributing factor to the poor record.
It was announced earlier this week that Brian McTear has been ruled
academically ineligible by the NCAA and was dismissed by the school. While
McTear wasn’t exactly a star with his 6.6 ppg, the Pilots could not afford to
loss any scoring from an offensively-challenged lineup. McTear started at the
guard position against Montana in Portland’s most recent game and tallied nine
points. Darren Cooper led the way for the Pilots in that win with 23 points on
4-of-5 shooting from three-point range, and Chris Jackson pitched in 11
points. Portland turned the ball over 20 times, but a 14-5 edge in points from
the foul line and a 30-21 rebounding advantage proved key to the victory.

While Portland struggles to generate offense, Oregon is racking up 84.2 ppg
thanks to the efforts of a crew of talented performers. Tajuan Porter is just
a freshman, but the fact that he is netting 18.2 ppg on 49.3 percent shooting
from three-point range and 92.9 percent from the foul line suggests that he
has the game of an experienced upperclassman. Bryce Taylor contributes 17.4
ppg to the Ducks’ lineup on 57.5 percent shooting from the field, and Aaron
Brooks checks in with 16.6 ppg. Maarty Leunen does not get as much credit as
many of his talented teammates, but he averages a double-double (10.8 ppg,
10.4 rpg). Malik Hairston (13.4 ppg) probably won’t play today, as he is still
recovering from a heel injury. As for Chamberlain Oguchi, he has missed the
last five games but may return his 11.3 ppg to the lineup tonight. In the 20-
point win over Mercer, Brooks posted 27 points and Taylor pitched in 21