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Oregon adjusts to slower pace

March 17, 2007|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

SPOKANE, WASH. — For almost a month, Oregon has been blowing past opponents, running up big wins with quickness and outside shooting.

That wasn't going to be the case against Miami of Ohio on Friday.

Matched against a methodical, defense-minded opponent, the Ducks had to scratch their way to a 58-56 victory in a Midwest Regional first-round game at Spokane Arena.

"It just became a game we had to grind out and finish at the end," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent said. "They're a tough basketball team."

Miami of Ohio, seeded 14th, made it tough on third-seeded Oregon by remaining patient on offense, milking the clock and making enough shots to nearly score an upset.

The RedHawks had been the only team in the nation to finish the regular season without giving up 70 points. They knew tempo would be key.

"We're just kind of slow, you know?" Coach Charlie Coles had said before the game. "It sounds good when people say, 'Boy, Miami can control tempo' ... it sounds like, 'Boy, they're being coached.' "

Everything went the RedHawks' way in the first few minutes. As in slow and steady.

Their scrambling defense kept Oregon off-balance as they took a 9-0 lead.

Then Oregon showed some defense of its own, its matchup zone forcing Miami to shoot from outside. Aaron Brooks made a couple of jump shots and the Ducks started scoring in transition, all of which fueled a 20-0 run.

After that, the game settled down, with Oregon threatening to pull away but Miami always seeming to stay close.

The RedHawks' Tim Pollitz led all scorers with 21 points. Oregon was led by Brooks' 18 points and Maarty Leunen's seven rebounds.

The victory was the Ducks' seventh in a row.

david.wharton@latimes.com

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