Ducks need to ramp up for their second-round game against Wake Forest
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Ñ Eventually, the Oregon Ducks would love to play Duke in the Final Four. For now, they’ll settle for another Atlantic Coast Conference team.
Second-seeded Oregon (24-8) will take on ninth-seeded Wake Forest (21-12) Saturday at Arco Arena in the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.
The Ducks will face a stiffer challenge against the Demon Deacons than they did in their sputtering, 81-62 victory Thursday over Montana. Oregon was lethargic in the first half, managing a 34-26 lead that they built on after intermission.
Wake Forest, an 83-74 winner over Pepperdine, has a sturdy center who can match pushes with the Ducks' 7-foot-2 Chris Christoffersen. Darius Songaila, a 6-9 load of a senior from Lithuania, averages 18 points and eight rebounds. 'You have to attack,' Songaila says. 'You can’t back off or back down.'
The Ducks like to get Christoffersen established early in the paint. That allows guards Freddie Jones, Luke Jackson and Luke Ridnour ÑÊwho combined for 52 points against Montana ÑÊto operate outside.
The Demon Deacons averaged 81.8 points per game this season, their highest since 1977-78. They were 9-7 in the tough ACC, and they get good production from guard Craig Dawson (19 points vs. Pepperdine) and forward Josh Howard, who has been hobbled by an ankle sprain.
Oregon and Wake Forest last met in December 1999. Jones scored 13 points as the Ducks upset the No. 19-ranked Demon Deacons 67-66. That year, the Ducks lost to Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.