Jones hits spot for Oregon in 72-70 win

Out of sync all game, he beats Texas at end

March 23, 2002|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

MADISON, Wis.--Freddie Jones had his worst game of the season last night for Oregon, picking up two quick fouls and never getting into any kind of offensive flow against Texas in his team's NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal matchup at the Kohl Center.

But when it counted most, the Ducks' leading scorer made the biggest shot of his career.

With the score tied, Jones beat Fredie Williams off the dribble, drove to the basket and scored on a layup that hit the back rim and dropped in with 2.8 seconds left. After a timeout by the Longhorns, freshman guard T.J. Ford's 10-footer hit off the back of the rim to preserve Oregon's 72-70 victory.

The victory sent Oregon (26-8) into tomorrow's regional championship game against top-seeded Kansas (32-3), a 73-69 winner over fourth-seeded Illinois (26-9) last night.

It marks the first time the Ducks have been among the last eight teams since they won the inaugural eight-team NCAA tournament in 1939.

"My overall game was terrible," said Jones, who finished with four points while playing only 24 minutes. "I knew we needed a play in the end. I was happy to be in the position to redeem myself."

Said Oregon coach Ernie Kent: "That play goes back to some of the games we lost earlier in the season. What this team has learned to do over the course of the season was win [close] games."

Oregon's celebrated Luke-and-Luke backcourt accounted for 45 of their team's points. Sophomore Luke Jackson led the Ducks with 25 points and fellow sophomore Luke Ridnour finished with 20, including a huge straightaway jumper from 18 feet with a little less than a minute left to give Oregon a 70-68 lead.

Sophomore center James Thomas, who led the Longhorns with 15 points and 11 rebounds, had a chance to give Texas (22-12) its first lead of the night after scoring in the post and getting fouled by Oregon's Robert Johnson. But Thomas, a 64 percent foul shooter, missed the free throw with 23.3 seconds left.

Johnson got the rebound with 23.3 seconds left to set up the winning basket by Jones, only his second of the game. The play was similar to the one Jones made in the closing seconds of Oregon's win earlier this month at USC.

"Even though Freddie didn't have the best game offensively, he kind of gotten taken out of the game on some cheap fouls," said Jackson. "He's still the type of person who wants the ball and has the confidence to make that shot. He's made plays like that all season."

So has Ford, but the national freshman of the year came up short this time. He made a mad dash reminiscent of the one UCLA's Tyus Edney made with 3.4 seconds left to beat Missouri in 1995. But Ford ran out of time and space, trying to launch his runner over 7-foot-2 Oregon center Chris Christoffersen.

"I thought it was going in," said Ford, who finished with eight points on three-for-10 shooting to go along with five assists and four turnovers. "It was a tough shot over a 7-2 guy. I had to arc it."

Said Christoffersen: "I thought it was going in for sure. I thought we were going to have to play overtime again. But luckily it bounced our way and it bounced out."

It looked early on that the Longhorns were going to get blown out. They missed their first six shots and 19 of 32 in the first half, and saw the Ducks build their lead up to 41-28 at halftime on a three-point shot by Jackson right before the buzzer.

But Texas erased Oregon's big lead with a 13-0 run early in the second half, tying the game at 51. The Longhorns found themselves down by as many as seven before coming back again. They twice cut the lead to two, the second time at 64-62 on a three-point play by Thomas with 4:56 left in the game.

A pair of free throws by Ford tied the game again at 68 with 1:18 left, but Jones found Ridnour for a top-of-the-key jumper with 58 seconds left. Jones then posted up Johnson, made the basket and was fouled. His free throw would have given the Longhorns the first lead of the game.

It came down to Jones.

"Freddie was kind of stewing on the bench because of the fouls," said Kent, who chose not to call time as his team was running the last play. "He had plenty of energy left because he didn't play a lot. ... It came down to Freddie making that huge play for us down the stretch."

On his worst night of the season, one play was more enough.

Box score

Oregon 72, Texas 70

FG FT Reb

TEXAS Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Mouton 26 4-13 0-0 1-5 3 1 8

Erskin 21 3-8 0-0 3-5 0 0 6

Thomas 27 7-13 1-4 5-11 0 1 15

Ford 32 3-10 2-2 1-1 5 2 8

Ivey 19 3-10 2-2 3-3 0 4 8

Williams 16 1-4 0-1 0-2 1 2 2

Harris 18 1-4 2-3 0-1 1 0 4

Klotz 15 3-4 0-0 1-3 1 3 6

Ross 2 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 0 0

Boddicker 24 4-6 2-2 3-8 0 2 13

Totals 200 29-72 9-14 18-40 11 15 70

Percentages: FG .403, FT .643. 3-point goals: 3-12, .250 (Boddicker 3-4, Ford 0-1, Ivey 0-1, Harris 0-2, Mouton 0-4). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 1 (Ford). Turnovers: 15 (Ford 4, Harris 3, Ivey 2, Mouton 2, Williams 2, Boddicker, Thomas). Steals: 11 (Ford 7, Ivey 2, Klotz, Mouton). Technical fouls: None.

FG FT Reb

OREGON Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Johnson 34 5-6 0-0 2-7 0 2 10

Jackson 35 10-17 3-4 2-6 8 0 25

Christoffersen 30 3-6 1-4 2-7 0 4 7

Ridnour 39 8-15 0-0 0-1 5 3 20

Jones 24 2-6 0-0 0-4 5 3 4

Davis 9 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 2

Lever 13 0-2 0-0 1-3 1 1 0

Helquist 8 0-0 0-1 0-2 1 2 0

Michaelis 8 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 4

Totals 200 31-57 4-10 7-30 21 16 72

Percentages: FG .544, FT .400. 3-point goals: 6-18, .333 (Ridnour 4-9, Jackson 2-6, Davis 0-1, Jones 0-2). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 5 (Christoffersen 4, Lever). Turnovers: 15 (Ridnour 4, Christoffersen 3, Davis 2, Johnson 2, Jones 2, Lever, Michaelis). Steals: 9 (Ridnour 3, Jones 2, Lever 2, Christoffersen, Davis). Technical fouls: None.

Texas 28 42 - 70

Oregon 41 31 - 72

A-16,310. Officials-Mike Sanzere, Ted Valentine, Bob Donato.

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