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January 6, 2007
EUGENE, Ore. -In 1974, Ernie Kent played for an Oregon team that upset No. 1 UCLA.
Thirty-three years later, Kent sobbed when his Ducks again knocked off the top-ranked Bruins.
"This is a together basketball team," the Oregon coach said after the 16th-ranked Ducks handed UCLA its first loss of the season, 68-66 on Saturday. ``Their spirit is unbelievable.''
Aaron Brooks scored 25 points, including the game-winning jumper with 13 seconds left for Oregon (14-1, 2-1 Pac-10). That was the Ducks' only field goal over the final 7 minutes.
``It just shows that we can play with anybody, regardless of who we played at the beginning of the year,'' Brooks said. ``People talked about our schedule, but we got to put the system in, and the system's working, and it will work against anybody if we play hard.''
Darren Collison hit a 3-pointer to bring the Bruins (14-1, 3-1) into a 66-66 tie. Brooks, who had 31 points on Thursday night in the 84-82 loss to Southern California, the Ducks' first this season, hit the baseline jumper to give Oregon the lead.
UCLA worked the ball around over the final seconds and instead of going toward the basket for a chance at tying it, Josh Shipp's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was short, setting off a celebration on McArthur Court.
UCLA coach Ben Howland said he was concerned because Collison, the point guard, had four fouls, and top-scorer Arron Afflalo had three, meaning the Bruins could have had issues if the game went to overtime.
``The last play of the game was really my fault. I wanted to go for the win,'' Howland said. ``I thought we would be able to penetrate and kick out for a 3, and it wasn't there. We were really tentative and did not get a good shot at the end of the game.''
Maarty Luenen was on Shipp for the final play.
``I actually turned my back on him because I thought Collison was going to shoot it, and it went back out to Shipp and I just had to play good defense,'' Luenen said. ``I knew the clock was running down and he had to put something up pretty quick.''
The Bruins had not opened 15-0 since 1972-73, when they went 30-0 and won the national championship.
Shipp and Afflalo both finished with 14 points for the Bruins, who trailed 40-30 at halftime, while Collison had 11.
The last time the Bruins lost was to Florida in the national championship game.
``I never thought I'd feel like this again in my entire career here,'' Afflalo said. ``I truly thought this team couldn't be beat. The way we played and the type of heart we play with, and the type of leadership we have on this team - I wouldn't say we're invincible (but) I didn't think we could be beat.
``This is probably my worst loss ever.''
Luenen had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Ducks, who were off to their best start since 1937-38, when Oregon won its first 14.
The last time the Bruins visited McArthur Court as the nation's top-ranked team was Feb. 16, 1974. The Ducks stunned UCLA 56-51 in that game, earning the cover of Sports Illustrated. That upset also followed an Oregon loss to the Trojans.
Kent, then a shooting guard, played about 10 seconds in that game.
Among those in the sellout crowd of 9,087 Saturday were Nike founder Phil Knight, an Oregon alum, and former Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington, now with the Miami Dolphins.
``It was just a moment for me to embrace that building again. It's such a great building with lots of history and tradition and so much passion,'' Kent said. ``I've been there as a player and I've been there as a coach, but this is the first time this group has experienced that.''
The Bruins, who had won four straight against the Ducks, were coming off a 71-56 victory over Oregon State on Thursday.
As UCLA struggled with its outside shooting - the Bruins were 1-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half - Bryce Taylor had a dunk and a 10-foot jumper to give the Ducks the 40-30 halftime lead. Oregon shot 70 percent from the field (14-for-20) in the first half, while the Bruins shot 36.4 percent (12-for-33).
For the game, the Bruins were 8-for-23 from 3-point range and shot 41.8 percent (23-for-55) overall. Oregon made five of 15 3-point attempts and shot 47.8 percent (22-for-46).
Afflalo missed all five of his shots in the first half, but his 3-pointer made it 40-36 early in the second half.
Oregon took a 53-44 lead midway through the second half on a layup by Brooks.
The Bruins closed within 64-61 on Afflalo's 3-pointer with 2:49 left. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute missed a key shot for the Bruins with 1:28 left, and the game was halted momentarily when someone in the building pulled a fire alarm.
The Ducks were without forward Malik Hairston, who was averaging 13.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, because of a heel injury. Hairston dressed, but did not play.
It was the first time a top-ranked team had visited Eugene since Arizona beat Oregon 70-54 on Jan. 16, 1988.