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College basketball

PAC-10: Ducks win first championship

Oregon is lowest seed to take the tournament, beating USC 74-66.

©Associated Press

March 16, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- Luke Ridnour had 18 points and nine assists, Luke Jackson added 17 points and Oregon defeated Southern California 74-66 Saturday to win its first Pac-10 Conference tournament title.

Fifth-seeded Oregon became the lowest seed to win and the only other champion besides Arizona and UCLA in the tournament's six-year history. The Ducks won their first two games, against Arizona State and UCLA, by one point each.

The Ducks (23-9) earned the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament berth, though they were already assured of a spot despite losing five of their final nine regular-season games.

Oregon will make its second straight appearance and third in four years in the NCAAs. The Ducks lost to Kansas in the quarterfinals last year.

"It puts us in position to be one of the upper-echelon teams in the conference from now on," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said.

The seventh-seeded Trojans (13-17) won't be going anywhere. They needed a victory to make the tournament for the third consecutive year.

Desmon Farmer led USC with 19 points, but he didn't score in the second half when he was benched during crucial stretches. Late in the game, USC fans booed when Farmer was taken out again.

Rory O'Neil had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Derrick Craven added 13 points for the Trojans, who got within four points with 21/2 minutes remaining then missed shots down the stretch.

Ridnour, the Pac-10 player of the year, was selected MVP of the three-day tournament at Staples Center.

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