By Joel Flom
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 23, 1998

Oregon starts, finishes cold

"We were missing wide-open shots. We were forcing shots. We were missing layups. We were missing free throws. We weren't blocking out. We weren't doing anything, come to think of it."

In the words of UO head coach Ernie Kent, that was last night's ball game.

Arizona remained prefect in the Pacific 10 Conference (6-0) and moved to 16-3 overall with the 87-57 victory. Oregon fell to 7-9, 2-5 in conference play.

Oregon kept the Arizona faithful on its feet in the first half as the Ducks did not score until the 14:32 mark on a free throw by forward Jonathan Nelson. The Ducks continued to be far from mighty in the first half, scoring just 20 points on 8 for 33 from the field.

"Every single guy had no energy, no legs, no stamina, couldn't run, couldn't shoot," Kent said. "Sometimes you can look in a guy's eyes and see he's out of synch, but we were totally that way as a team. We were dead and flat."

The Ducks also went 1 for 9 from three-point land for a combined 24 percent first half shooting performance.

"The 15-0 start got us in a hole," Oregon forward A.D. Smith said of the team's uninspired play. "It took our heart away."

Nelson agreed.

"The first three minutes they jumped all over us," Nelson said. "We didn't recover. We should be fired up to play this team, the defending national champions. We shouldn't be afraid to shoot the ball."

In fact, in the first half Oregon also fired the ball up 10 more times than the Wildcats. But they did gather 15 offensive rebounds, eight more than Arizona.

"With the 8 for 33 (shooting at halftime), half of them were from the inside," Smith said. "(Arizona) gave us the opportunity to get them."

According to Kent, though, the Ducks were having problems even before tip-off.

"I tried to do things to fire them up," Kent said. "I could see in their eyes that they were flat."

Smith and forward Henry Madden each managed just four points, which lead the Ducks before intermission.

Kent did his best in the locker room to get his troops fired up.

"Coach said that we were afraid," Nelson said of the halftime talk.

"(He questioned) our heart," Smith added.

The Ducks, however, failed to respond.

Oregon went 15 for 41 from the field and finished the game with a 31 percent shooting percentage. Forward Jamar Curry led Oregon with 11 points. A majority of his buckets, however, came in the closing minutes against Arizona's bench.

So, what do the Ducks take from a 30-point thrashing?

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing," Smith said. We didn't show up. It was an embarrassment to Oregon and everyone watching on TV."

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