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Inside look at high school and Oakland University sports from Oakland Press sports writer Dave Pemberton.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Oakland-Oregon preview

The opponent — Oregon is coming off a 66-64 win over Northern Colorado in its season opener on Saturday. The Ducks return two starters from last season in junior guard Tajuan Porter (13.9 points per game last season) and junior forward Joevan Catron (8.8 points and 5.7 rebounds last season).
Oregon, which was picked to finish seventh in the Pac-10 preseason poll, is a young team. The Ducks started two freshman (Matthew Humphrey and Michael Dunigan) and a sophomore (LeKendric Longmire) against Northern Colorado, and played freshman Josh Crittle, freshman Kamyron Brown and sophomore Garrett Sim significant minutes. Longmire led Oregon with 15 points and Dunigan added 13 points.
Orgeon head coach Ernie Kent will be going for history. Saturday’s win tied Kent with Hall of Famer Howard Hobson with 212 career victories at Oregon, so a win tonight will give Kent the school record.

Key matchup — Oakland’s Johnathon Jones vs. Oregon’s Tajuan Porter. With Derick Nelson out for Oakland, Jones and Porter are their respective team’s leading returning scorer. Both struggled in their season openers. Jones shot 2-for-16 and finished with eight points and six turnovers in the Grizzlies’ 58-55 loss to Cleveland State. Porter shot 1-for-10 and finished with five points in Oregon’s win over Northern Colorado. Jones frustrated the Detroit Renaissance grad in their head-to-head meeting last season. Porter shot 1-for-9 from the field and scored three points, while Jones had 12 points and eight assists in a 68-62 Oakland win. Porter, who had family and friends in the crowd last year at The Palace, has likely been waiting for this game and another shot at Oakland so expect an inspired effort from him.

Matchup history — Oakland defeated then No. 23 Oregon 68-62 last season at The Palace of Auburn Hills in the only meeting between the two schools. It was the Grizzlies first win in school history over a top 25 team. Oakland is 1-1 all-time against Pac-10 teams.

The skinny — The Ducks were tough at home last season (11-1) and the 7 p.m. Pacific (10 p.m. Eastern) start could play a role. Since turning Division I the Grizzlies have played just one game in the Pacific time zone, a 74-53 loss to UCLA in 2006. Jet lag could be an issue for Oakland. The Grizzlies had just one day of rest, which included a plane ride across the country, between its loss to Cleveland State and Monday night’s game. Oakland will need a strong start, like it had against the Vikings to set the tempo. Both teams will play freshman significant minutes so the team that limits its mistakes will likely come out with the win.



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