Men's BasketballSports

Hardwood Series game first major road trip for Ducks

The Oregon men’s basketball team (4-2) will make its first out-of-state road trip this season when they travel to Columbia, Mo., to take on the Missouri Tigers (4-1) on Friday afternoon. The game will be played as a part of the 2009 Pacific-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series and will be the first time the two programs have met since the 1991-92 season.

The Ducks are coming off of an 89-66 win over Montana State this past weekend, a game that 13th-year head coach Ernie Kent deemed their most “complete game” of the year so far. The Ducks had six players finish the game with double-digit scoring, despite playing with a short bench due to multiple injuries.

Throughout preparations this week for Missouri, most of the Oregon squad has noticed the striking similarities between themselves and the Tigers.

“We both want to press people,” Kent said. “We both want to go extremely fast. We both offensively rebound very, very hard and we’re both very athletic.”

Oregon sophomore guard Teondre Williams has embodied each of those characteristics so far this season, as he’s scored in double digits in each of the team’s six games. In the Montana State win, Williams showed off his three-point range, shooting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and tied a career-high with 19 points.

“That whole week after we lost two, we got back to playing Oregon basketball and running the floor,” Williams said. “We practiced hard and that showed in the game.”

The two losses Williams referred to came at the hands of the No. 25 Portland Pilots — who have also beat UCLA and Minnesota this season and made their way into the AP Top-25 poll for the first time in 50 years — and the Montana Grizzlies.

The Ducks played both games without sophomore center Michael Dunigan, who started 24 games in the paint for Oregon last year, but his 15 points in 16 minutes of action in his return against Montana State showed great promise after the team desperately lacked an interior post presence without him.

But the first major road trip of the season will definitely present its small challenges for Kent’s team, especially with the travel arrangements.

“The difference is that we’re taking two planes, two airports and a bus to get there,” Kent explained. “That’s the big difference in the game. But we’re going to go a day ahead of time — we’re going to miss the football game, unfortunately — just so we can get rested up and get ready for a good basketball game.”

Sophomore guard Garrett Sim also stressed the importance of the first big road trip of the year.

“It’s going to be a great experience for all the guys — experienced and young guys,” Sim said. “It’s our first big road trip and we need to get comfortable.”

Sim has played a key role as the back-up point guard to fellow sophomore Malcolm Armstead, while senior Tajuan Porter has sat out most of the last two games with a tweaked ankle. Sim has provided seven points per game off the bench for the Ducks and agreed with Kent that the Missouri team is highly comparable to Oregon’s style of play.

“We watched some film yesterday and they were flying around and do a lot of the same things we do,” he said. “It’s one of those things that I think we will benefit from because we’re going through the same things in practice everyday.”

The Tigers are 3-0 at home this season and picked up their first loss of the year against Richmond on Nov. 28 at the South Padre Invitational in Texas.

6-foot-6-inch, 200-pound sophomore guard Kim English has paced Missouri with 16.4 points per game, while fellow sophomore forward Laurence Bowers has added 11 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing.

Missouri leads the all-time series against the Ducks 3-0 and will try to keep their record perfect come Friday.

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