On a brisk Saturday afternoon in Eugene on January 6th, 2007, two early Pac-10 title contenders clashed in an epic game at storied MacArthur court. The 2:00 pm tipoff had been much anticpated, as the two teams were both nationally ranked in the top 20, and at that point had only one loss between them. A predictably loud and roudy crowd of 9,087 packed “The Pit”, and the expected influence on the game from the crowd was partially been responsible for the lower-ranked Ducks being a 2 point favorite coming in against the top rated Bruins.
That year the Duck men had exploded out of the gates, starting off the season 12-0. The offense was coming in bunches, and they had eclipsed the rarely seen 100-point mark twice. However, during the Thursday game of that week, Oregon had dropped it’s first game of the season, 84-82 to USC. With the loss, the pefect record was gone, but they still sat at a stout 12-1. Coachhad put together a particularly cohesive unit, who had thrived on speed, tempo, conditioning, and sharp shooting from each spot on the floor.
With one of the best starts to a season in school history in tow, Oregon entered the contest ranked as the #16 team in the nation. The team and the offense was led by guard Aaron Brooks, who had some up and downs early in his career, but that year had blossomed into an elite conference player. With star Malik Hairston on the bench nursing a heel injury, starting alongside Brooks in that game was true freshman guard and 3-point machine gun, athletic forwards , Chamberlain Oguchi, and the 6’10″ match up nightmare from Redmond: Maarty Leunen.
Maarty Leunen battles Aaron Afflalo for a loose ball in the 1st half
#1 UCLA meanwhile, had ripped off 14 straight wins, were undefeated, and had rarely even been tested along the way. They had smashed the lowly beavs during their Thursday game 71-56. The Bruins had played themselves into the top ranking after having posted impressive wins on the road at Kentucky, and then orchestrating an absolute thrashing of Michigan, 92-55, in the preseason.
The talented UCLA team was brimming with future NBA talent. They featured an explosive starting line up with
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