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Will fans flock to see Ducks play Marshall?

In football, it would be an interesting game. But Oregon versus Marshall in basketball Saturday night in the Rose Garden doesn't exactly scream marquee matchup.

The Ducks have done well in luring teams such as Louisville and Kansas to play them recently in the Pape Jam, but when efforts to recruit an opponent like Oklahoma State or Michigan State failed this season, Oregon settled for Marshall.

The Thundering Herd, best known as the football school that produced Randy Moss and Chad Pennington, went 14-15 last year, including 9-9 in the Mid-American Conference.

Marshall, which was 1-1 heading into a game at Kentucky on Monday night, has eight letter winners back for first-year coach Roy Jirsa. Marshall also plays host to Radford on Thursday before traveling to Portland.

Junior guard A.W. Hamilton, the MAC's top assist man last season (5.5 per game), and senior forward Marvin Black, who averaged 7.3 rebounds last season, appear to be the team's best players.

Consider Saturday's game an opportunity for Portlanders to watch the high-flying Ducks in person. Admire Luke Jackson. Enjoy freshman guard Aaron Brooks.

And expect the Ducks, who warm up with tonight's home game against Portland State, to win by about 20 points.

• Davis' distraction: Besides being Oregon's sixth man, after starting 32 of 33 games last year, UO guard James Davis has another situation to deal with this season. His birth mother, Katherine Davis, a U.S. Army reservist, has been deployed to Iraq.

Her unit sets up communication towers for troops, and she could be back as early as mid-March, which would coincide with the Ducks possibly playing in the NCAA Tournament.

'I'm real proud of my mom being over there,' Davis says in a feature story on him in The (Eugene) Register-Guard. 'She's the strongest person for doing that. I admire everybody over there for leaving their family so that all of us can have our freedom.

'She's about 5-3, the sweetest little lady in the world,' he says. 'I just can't see my mom over there,' he says, 'but she sounds like she's enjoying it.'

'It's tough my senior year looking into the stands and not seeing my mom up there É not seeing her smile.'

• Back by January?: Kansas coach Bill Self says he hopes that injured guard Michael Lee of Portland can return by Jan. 5, the Jayhawks' first Big 12 Conference game against Colorado.

Lee, who had started KU's first two games, broke his right collarbone in practice last Friday. 'It certainly deflated us,' Self tells the Kansas City Star. 'When we found out it was a fracture, it took the wind out of us.'

The 6-3 junior, who shot 50 percent from 3-point territory last year, earned the starting spot alongside former Jefferson High running mate Aaron Miles through his leadership, hustle and defensive intensity. Freshman J.R. Giddens probably will start in his absence.

• Feat of the week: Cascade may have seen its coach, Craig Moody, and several players depart the program, but the Thunderbirds and first-year coach Matt Greenleaf seem to have found another great player. Jered Alsup scored 49 points against Western Baptist last week, hitting 19 of 30 shots and 9 of 15 free throws. He also grabbed 13 rebounds in the 109-104 loss.

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