Preview: Stanford at No. 11 Oregon

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Preview: Stanford at No. 11 Oregon

This game is more than just another win, although some Oregon players and coaches just see it that way. No. 11 Oregon is one step closer to history following its 86-63 win over California last Thursday night and welcome unranked Stanford (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12) tomorrow at 3 p.m.

With an Oregon win, first of all the Ducks will now be sitting on a 16-game win streak, the longest in program history and breaking the previous 15-game win streak over 100 years ago. Second, if the Ducks win, Oregon extends its home win streak to 38 games, second in the nation behind Kansas (49 games). A win last Thursday also secured Oregon coach Dana Altman's 20th straight winning season. What a week for Oregon basketball.  

A big question raised following Thursday's win against California is the status of junior forward Dillon Brooks, who walked off the court just before halftime with an apparent foot injury. Altman said the trainers are evaluating him and the team is waiting on the diagnosis.  

The 3-4 Stanford Cardinal started off the season 0-4 and has won the last three straight partly due to the activity of junior forward Reid Travis and a force under the hoop of junior forward Michael Humphrey. 

A quick look at the game:

Stanford at No. 11 Oregon

Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Ore. 

When: 3:00 p.m., Saturday January 21, 2017.

TV: Pac-12 Networks. 

Records: Ducks (17-2, 6-0 Pac-12), Cardinal (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12).   

Last outings: Oregon extended its current win streak to 15 with a dominant 86-63 performance at home over California. Stanford cruised past Oregon State in Corvallis, OR, 62-46. 

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (171-66 at Oregon, 581-309 Division I). Stanford's Jerod Haase (11-8 at Stanford, 80-53 at Alabama-Birmingham).

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .385 3FG pct.), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (8.1 ppg, 3.9 apg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (11.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.2 bpg), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (13.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

Key Cardinal: F Michael Humphrey, 6-9, Jr. (9.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg), F Reid Travis, 6-8, Jr., (16.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg), G Marcus Allen, 6-3, Sr., (5.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg). 

Notes: An Oregon victory will break the programs' all-time winning streak of 15 games...Stanford has won the last three Pac-12 games in a row....Oregon looks to extend home win streak to 38 games. 

 

No. 11 Oregon chasing history; win 86-63 over Cal

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No. 11 Oregon chasing history; win 86-63 over Cal

How Oregon won: No. 11 Oregon made itself very comfortable from the three-point line tonight. The Ducks went 11-of-24 collectively as a team from three-point range behind the hot hand of junior guard Casey Benson's 5-of-5, 100 percent from the arc. No. 11 Oregon (17-2, 6-0 Pac-12) earned its 15th straight win with a 86-63 victory over the Cal Bears (13-6, 4-3 Pac-12).

"I've been saying it all along, if we take good ones, you know I thought we were better than what we were showing from the three," said Oregon coach Altman on his team's three-point percentage tonight. "I don't think we are going to be a 45 percent team, but we can shoot 40 [percent]. So it was a really good night for us. Casey [Benson] going 5-for-5 was really great." 

All eyes were on junior forward Dillon Brooks towards the end of the first half, but this time around was a different feeling. With 45 seconds remaining in the first half, junior forward Dillon Brooks left the court and headed for the locker room. He did not come back out with the team to warm up after halftime for what seemed to be a left foot injury. Brooks injured the same foot and was out for a few games at the beginning of the season. Still no word as to his condition or status for Stanford or beyond.

What it means: With this win, the Ducks are chasing history one step at a time. First of all, Oregon has now seven consecutive winning seasons. The last time this occured was 77 years ago (1934-1940). Second, this win extends Oregon's home win streak to 37, second in the nation behind Kansas (49 games). And third, the Ducks now sit on a 15-game win streak, which ties the longest in all-time Oregon program history. 

Key sequence: At 17:22 in the first half, it was Casey Benson's time to shine. It may seem simple, but Benson hit back-to-back huge three-pointers to extend the Ducks lead 16-12. But these two shots did more than just increase the score. Oregon rode the energy Benson brought off the bench and sparked a 9-3 run including a monster dunk from senior forward Chris Boucher to get him going as well. 

High flying Ducks: Off the bench, Benson demonstrated his leadership right away replacing Pritchard (foul trouble). Benson hit two quick three-pointers (both assists from Ennis), and wan't afraid to get physical under the hoop knocking the ball away from the Bears' big guys. Benson finished with 15 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey was fearless driving to the hoop and either getting himself to the free throw line (he went 7-of-9) or dished out six assists. Tonight's MVP was junior forward Jordan Bell who finished with 26 points, six rebounds, two assists, and four blocks.  

Fowl play: Freshman guard Payton Pritchard got hit with two fouls early on and was forced to ride the bench most of the first half. Benson relieved him just three minutes into the game.

Up next: The Ducks host unranked Stanford (10-8, 2-4 Pac-12) for a mid-afternoon 3 p.m. start this Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena. 

No. 13 Oregon wins this war 85-43 over Oregon State

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No. 13 Oregon wins this war 85-43 over Oregon State

How Oregon won: It was all No. 13 Oregon in this one and it started at the tipoff. The Ducks team defense came to play and forced the Beavers into bad shots taking a commanding 21-0 lead early in the game. Ducks junior forward Jordan Bell made his presence known early and made things very difficult for Beavers forward Drew Eubanks, holding him to 10 points in the first half. Good defense on one end lead to better offense on the other. Oregon's shots seemed to be falling from just about anywhere. Oregon (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) won the war this time 85-43 over rival Oregon State (4-14, 0-5 Pac-12).

"I thought our defensive intensity was very good to start the game," said Oregon coach Dana Altman. "Jordan Bell was really good to start the ball game... I liked our activity the whole first half. Didn't remember too many easy baskets. Guys really flew around pretty good."

Oregon took halftime up 41-13.

What it means: The Beavers were without star sophomore and captain Tres Tinkle and just can't seem to find any rhythm without him on the court. Oregon took advantage of his absence and focused their attention on good team defense, double-teaming on Eubanks when given the chance. This sort of "development game" is beneficial for players like freshman forward Keith Smith, junior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams, and junior forward Roman Sorkin. They each recorded decent minutes which will only benefit the Ducks' depth as the season progresses. 

Key sequence: Ducks freshman guard Payton Pritchard mentioned this week at practice that the Ducks need to get off to a better, more efficient start. Starting off the game on a 21-0 run sounds like a good beginning to a game. During this period, Oregon's defense, through blocked shots, rebounds, and forcing the Beavers into bad looks, helped kickstart their uptempo offense and set the tone early.

High flying Ducks: This was a group victory. Each Ducks player took a step in the right direction. Pritchard's shot is getting better and better. Pritchard finished with 17 points and was four for four from three-point range. Senior guard Dylan Ennis added 16 points and five assists. Bell had himself a block party with four individual blocks, two early on Eubanks, of a team-combined 10 blocks. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey was aggressive to the rim and got himself to the free throw line going five of eight at the line. Junior guard Casey Benson found his stroke behind the arc going three-of-four. 

This was a team victory. Oregon extends its win streak to 14 in a row.

Fowl play: Bigby-Williams ended his night with four fouls, but played 11 minutes and finished three of four from the free-throw line.

Up next: The Ducks host the unranked California Bears (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) at 6 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR.

Civil War Preview: No. 13 Oregon host Oregon State

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Civil War Preview: No. 13 Oregon host Oregon State

No. 13 Oregon hosts the 347th edition of the Civil War between the Ducks and Oregon State Beavers at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night at Matthew Knight Arena. This series is the most-contested rivalry in college basketball. Oregon States leads this rivalry with 186 wins over Oregon.

In the last three games, three different Ducks have scored at least 28 points: junior forward Dillon Brooks (28 points vs. USC on Dec. 30), sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey (28 points at Washington on Jan. 4), and senior forward Chris Boucher (29 points at Washington State on Jan. 7).

In recent news, Dillon Brooks can now add another highlight to his basketball career. Brooks was named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25. He is one of five Pac-12 players on the list.

Although this Beavers squad is banged up with injuries to sophomore guard and captain Tres Tinkle (wrist) and senior center Cheikh N’Diaye (shoulder), the Ducks will have to keep an eye on sophomore guard Stephen Thompson Jr. who is shooting .467 percent from three-point range and sophomore forward Drew Eubanks who seems to be doing it all with counterpart Tinkle out.

"It's been a little tough start for them, with the injuries, you know and I know how injuries effect every team and then with [Tres] Tinkle out it's been tough for them," Oregon coach Dana Altman said at practice today. "I like their young talent and Wayne [coach Tinkle] has done a great job keeping them together and keeping them playing hard. In fact I haven't seen their UCLA game until this morning, and they hung right in there and really executed well. So we'll have to get ready to play and our guys will be excited to play... we should be ready to go." 

A quick look at the game:

Oregon State vs. Oregon

Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR

When: 7:36 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks. 

Records: Ducks (15-2 overall, 4-0 Pac-12), Beavers (4-13, 0-4 Pac-12). 

Last outings: Then No. 15 Oregon cruised past Washington State 85-66 last Saturday. The Beavers lost on the road to Washington 87-61 last Saturday.

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (169-66 at Oregon, 702-333 overall). Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle (36-27 at Oregon State, 194–118 overall).

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (11.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .450 3FG pct.), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (13.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg), G Payton Pritcahrd, 6-2, Fr., (8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (16.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (14.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.1 bpg).

Key Beavers: G Jaquori McLaughlin, 6-4, Fr. (10.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg), F Drew Eubanks, 6-10, So., (14.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg), G Kendal Manuel, 6-4, Fr. (5.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg), G Stephen Thompson Jr., 6-4, So., (8.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg).

Notes: This is the 347th edition of Civil War basketball making this rivalry the most contested in all of college basketball…The Ducks are currently on a 13-game win streak…Oregon’s current home win streak is at 35, second in the nation behind Kansas (48 games)….Oregon has had three different players to score more than 28 points in three consecutive games (Brooks vs. USC on Dec. 30, Dorsey vs. Washington on Jan. 4, Boucher vs. Washington State on Jan. 7).

Dillon Brooks will not face suspension, cleared to play in Civil War

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Dillon Brooks will not face suspension, cleared to play in Civil War

Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks is officially back. It was reported this week from ESPN writer and reporter Andy Katz that the league decided Brooks will not face any suspension for his actions during the WSU game.

No. 13 Oregon, (then No. 15), ended its first conference road trip with a 85-66 win at Washington State late afternoon last Saturday. At the 13:25 minute mark in the first half, Brooks was going after his own rebound at the hoop, fell to the ground, and his foot, that was caught under him, snapped up and hit Cougars forward Josh Hawkinson in the groin. The referees called a flagrant two on Brooks and by rule an automatic ejection. 

The Pac-12 reviewed the play on Sunday and reporter no additional penalties to Brooks. 

Brooks is cleared to play in the first chapter of the Civil War this season vs. Oregon State (4-13, 0-4 Pac-12) at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday.

No. 15 Oregon finds life in the second half, routs Washington State 85-66

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No. 15 Oregon finds life in the second half, routs Washington State 85-66

How Oregon won: Oregon looked like two different teams in the first and second half. As junior forward Dillon Brooks was hit with a flagrant two foul (and automatic ejection) at 13:25 in the first half, it seemed as though that put the team in a rather funk for the rest of the half. Not sure what Oregon coach Dana Altman said in the locker room at halftime, but whatever it was, fifth-year senior guard Dylan Ennis and senior forward Chris Boucher came alive. The duo lead No. 15 Oregon (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12) past Washington State (9-6, 2-1 Pac-12) 85-66 to round out the Ducks first road trip of conference play. The Ducks continue its current win streak to now 13 in a row.

What it means: This team can win without Dillon Brooks. It has been proven earlier in the season with Books out due to injury. Although having Brooks on the court is better for the Ducks, Oregon can find ways through Boucher, Dorsey, Ennis, and the list goes on to win. Tonight was another display of yet another Ducks player stepping into the big role.    

Key sequence: The score was tied at 37 a piece at halftime. In the second half, Dylan Ennis stepped up in the absence of his Canadian counterpart Dillon Brooks. Ennis seemed to be involved in every play contributing in assists or points as the Ducks went on a 17-4 run starting around the 15:37 mark in the second half. With the score at a 45-43 Ducks lead, Ennis took over and penetrated into the lane to either hit a jumper in traffic or kick it out to his shooters getting both Sorkin and Boucher good looks from the three-point line. The Cougars had no answer for the Ducks swift ball movement. As a team, Oregon finished with 18 assists and six turnovers.

High flying Ducks: Speaking of the three-point line, Chris Boucher found himself very comfortable out behind the arc. The senior went six-of-nine (.667%) from three-point range. Boucher has typically been a good shooter so it wasn't out of the ordinary for his stroke to be falling tonight. He finished with 29 points and eight rebounds. Ennis also contributed 17 points and seven assists. 

Fowl play: Dillon Brooks left the game early, or rather hit with a flagrant two foul and an automatic ejection from the game, at the 13:25 minute mark in the first half. Brooks went up strong at the rim, missed, and when he hit the floor, after a scum for the rebound, his leg shot up and hit Cougars forward Josh Hawkinson in a sensitive area. Brooks was off to another good start but left the game with seven points, one rebound, and one assist. 

Up next: Oregon is back at home for the first chapter of the Civil War this season vs. Oregon State (4-13, 0-4 Pac-12) at 7:30 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena. 

Preview: No. 15 Oregon at Washington State

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Preview: No. 15 Oregon at Washington State

After one heck of a shooting performance from Ducks sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey at Washington, No. 15 Oregon (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) rounds out its first conference play road trip at the Washington State Cougars (9-5, 2-0 Pac-12) today at 4 p.m.

Dorsey had a career-best eight three-pointers vs. the Huskies and finished with 28 points.

However, Dorsey will have to remain sharp as Oregon will face a true test on the road vs. Washington State with Cougars senior forward Josh Hawkinson who right now is averaging a double-double. Not just an offensive threat, but at 6-10, Hawkinson is a rim protector and will make it difficult for Dorsey, freshman guard Payton Pritchard, and senior guard Dylan Ennis to penetrate into the lane and finish at the hoop. 

The Ducks will see a familiar face on the court in Ernie Kent. Kent is in his second season coaching the Washington State Cougars, but prior to WSU, he coached Oregon for 13 years from the 1997-1998 season until the 2009-2010 season with an overall record of 253-173.

A quick look at the game:

Oregon vs. Washington State

Where: Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Wash.

When: 4:10 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks. 

Records: Ducks (14-2 overall, 3-0 Pac-12), Cougars (9-5, 2-0 Pac-12). 

Last outings: Oregon routed rival Washington 83-61 last Wednesday for their first conference away win. The Cougars beat the Oregon State Beavers 75-62 last Wednesday. 

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (168-66 at Oregon, 578-309 Division I). Washington State’s Ernie Kent (31-45 at Washington State, 235-173 at Oregon, 356-298 overall).

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (13.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .419 3FG pct.), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (7.8 ppg, 4.1 apg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.3 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (14.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (13.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 bpg).

Key Cougs: F Josh Hawkinson, 6-10, Sr., (16.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg), C Conor Clifford, 7-0, R-Sr., (10.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg), G Malachi Flynn, 6-1, Fr. (11.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, .480 3FG pct.), G Charles Callsion, 6-0, Sr., (9.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg), G Ike Iroegbu, 6-2, Sr., (10.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg).

Notes: Oregon and Washington State are two of the remaining three unbeaten teams in the Pac-12 Conference…The Ducks current 12-game winning streak is the longest since the 2013-2014 Ducks squad 13-game win streak…The last meeting between the Ducks and Cougs ended in a Ducks 76-62 victory in Eugene on Feb. 24, 2016…In 2015 and in Pullman, Washington, the Cougars beat the Ducks in overtime, 108-99. 

Preview: No. 15 Oregon at Washington

Preview: No. 15 Oregon at Washington

After a home sweep over UCLA and USC last week, Oregon (13-2, 2-0 Pac-12) moved up to No. 15 from No. 21. Oregon hits the road for the first time in six weeks to visit Washington on Wednesday night. 

Zero current Oregon players have won in Seattle. The Ducks were defeated at Washington two years ago and did not visit the Washington schools last season. 

However, Oregon, winners of 11 straight, still has plenty of momentum on its side. Dillon Brooks was named Pac-12 Player of the Week following his performance during Oregon's victories over previously unbeated and nationally ranked UCLA and USC. He averaged 25.5 points, on 60 percent shooting, as well as 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. 

A quick look at the game:

Oregon vs. Washington

Where: Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, Wash.

When: 6:05 p.m.

TV: ESPN2. 

Records: Ducks (13-2 overall, 2-0 Pac-12), Huskies (7-6, 0-1). 

Last outings: Oregon cruised by then ranked No. 22 USC, 84-61. The Huskies lost to Washington State in their Pac-12 opener, 79-74. 

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (167-66 at Oregon, 577-309 Division I),  who reached 700 career wins on Dec. 30 versus USC. Washington's Lorenzo Romar (288-171 at Washington, 381–259 overall).

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .378 3FG pct.), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.3 apg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (7.8 ppg, 4.1 apg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.3 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (14.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (13.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.1 bpg).
 

Key Huskies: G Markelle Fultz, 6-4, Fr. (22.3 ppg, 6.7 apg), F Noah Dickerson, 6-8, So., (8.7 rpg), F Malik Dime, 6-9, Sr. (2.8 bpg).

Notes: Six of the last seven meetings between Oregon and Washington have been decided by 10 points or less. The Ducks’ next victory will be the 1,600th win in school history.

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Brooks too much as No. 21 Oregon cruises past No. 22 USC 84-61

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Brooks too much as No. 21 Oregon cruises past No. 22 USC 84-61

How Oregon won: Dillon Brooks. Dillon Brooks. Dillon Brooks. Oh my goodness. Coming off his game-winning three over UCLA on Wednesday, the junior forward picked up right where he left off hitting just about any shot from anywhere on the court. Brooks finished with 28 points, three rebounds, and three assists. He was just too much for the Trojans. No. 21 Oregon defeated No. 22 USC 84-61.

After the game, Oregon coach Dana Altman said on Brooks' performance, "Dillon Brooks was unbelievable offensively again tonight just making plays and moving the ball. No turnovers, three assists, missed one shot, so he was really good offensively."

Oh yeah, Brooks also missed just one shot tonight. 

What it means: Oregon opened up conference play at home vs. two undefeated teams this week in No. 2 UCLA and No. 22 USC. Although still early in conference play, Oregon got these necessary home wins before eventually facing both these teams on the road. With Oregon at full strength, are we finally seeing the "deep tourney run" Ducks team that fans hoped for?

Key sequence: With just under three minutes left in the first half, Oregon had a 29-27 lead over USC. Then, Dillon Brooks happened. Brooks hit one of his four three's, followed by a Chris Boucher block, and then Brooks took care of the rest with a massive dunk as the crowd absolutely errupted. But Brooks was not done yet. He hit one last shot with 1:22 left in the first half, paired with a jump shot from sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, that helped extend Oregon's lead 38-29 at halftime. Oregon rode this energy and never looked back.

High flying Ducks: Besides another Brooks dominant performance, the other Dylan, Dylan Ennis, had himself a game as well adding 20 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Ennis finished the first half with just four points, but came out aggressive right away. Ennis contributed on 14 of the Ducks first 22 points out of halftime from both behind the arc and drives to the hoop. Ennis's counterpart, freshman guard Payton Pritchard, is settling in nicely as the starting guard creating plays for his teammates and controlling the tempo which led to several fast break opportunities for Oregon. Pritchard finished with 5 rebounds and 7 assists. 

Fowl play: Just how good can this Ducks team be? "You know, it's not a negative, but just how much room we have to grow into" said Altman. "I mean our block outs can get so much better, our transition defense can get so much better, so it's kind of the exciting thing is you know I think that if our guys will focus and really trust each other, we can get so much better in so many areas."

Up next: Oregon hits the road for their first conference play game away against the Washington Huskies (7-5) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4th.

Dillon Brooks and No. 21 Oregon hit on a winner against No. 2 UCLA

Dillon Brooks and No. 21 Oregon hit on a winner against No. 2 UCLA

EUGENE - The scene Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena would have been much different than the pandemonium that took place had Oregon forward Dillon Brooks' three-point shot with 0.8 seconds remaining not been true rather than swished to give the No. 21 Ducks an 89-87 win over No. 2 UCLA.

Faces would have been long. Hearts would have been broken. Yet, what would have still been as real in defeat as it was in victory is that the Ducks played arguably their best basketball of the season against the best competition they have faced to date, raising the belief that this team could certainly be championship-caliber after all. 

That, in the end, was more important than the win that could have easily been a loss with an inch or two to the left or right on Brooks' shot. 

These were the Ducks we've been waiting to see. A versatile and exciting group that has Final Four potential. Not the floundering team that got blown out at No. 4 Baylor and looked lethargic during many of its wins against lesser competition. 

"We're still a work in progress," UO coach Dana Altman said. "We needed something to happen. This was a good win."

The team's play, and the victory that extended the Ducks' home winning streak to 34 games, should pay dividends on many fronts, starting, but not ending with the play of Brooks, the team's heart and soul who must be that dude on a nightly basis for this team to excel. 

But let's start with the Ducks looking like an elite level team capable of contending for a Final Four berth, an expectation that had Oregon ranked in the top five to start the season. 

Altman all season had been calling for his team to improve its ball movement and play with greater efficiency. The Ducks (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) did that with 19 assists on 30 field goals. Oregon certainly didn't always shoot well (the Ducks made 7 of 14 three-point attempts in the first half and just 4 of 16 in the second half) but the team rarely took poor shots while committing just nine turnovers compared to the team's average of 13.6 per contest.

Always the coach, Altman still found the negatives, but did admit that the team certainly looked stronger. 

"Offensively we're still way behind those guys," he said of UCLA, which leads the Pac-12 in scoring, shooting and assists. "We have a tremendous amount of work to do with our execution on the offensive end."

The other byproduct of this game is how the team didn't fold when everything went south in the second half. Oregon played lights out in the first half but led just 52-47. UCLA (13-1, 0-1) somewhat played possum waiting for the moment to strike. They did just that going on a big run in the second half to take an 80-72 lead with 3:53 remaining.

Altman said the way his team fought back from that moment on made him the most proud. 

"It would have been really easy for us to give in to it," Altman said of UCLA's momentum at that point.

The Ducks did not. Instead, they kept finding the resolve to claw back and eventually broke through. 

"We're going to fight from the first 20 minutes to the last 20 minutes," Brooks said. 

That brings us back to Brooks. Altman said he was happy for his entire team but mostly for Brooks, who he said has had a rough five months dating back to when he injured his foot during a team trip to play in Spain. He missed the team's first three games, returned for a loss at Georgetown, and had been on a minutes restriction all season, even when he made his first start against UNLV on Dec. 17.

Trainers, Altman said, recently gave Brooks the go ahead to come off his minutes restriction and tonight he delivered his best game of the season with 23 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes.

Brooks attacked the basket without fear, converting on several plays inside. He crashed the boards. He launched eight threes... 

Well, that last part didn't turn out too well. He made just two.

"My team kept me positive, coaches kept me positive," Brooks said. 

That led to him making the three-point shot that mattered most.  

"For him to hit that shot after struggling here, it was good for him," Altman said. 

Brooks said he had no qualms about taking the three, which came after UCLAs Bryce Alford (20 points) missed a free throw. Brooks got the rebound, gave the ball to freshman point guard Payton Pritchard, and then got it back at the other end. Brooks ran straight to the three-point line and launched. 

"I was shooting it bad but I always say, 'shoot it like it's your last shot,'" Brooks said. 

Altman, ever the coach, joked that Brooks had time to take the ball to the basket, but added "who could argue" with his best player's decision in the end. 

"Nice to see him healthy and enjoying the game," Altman said. 

There's no rest for the elated. No. 22 USC comes to Matthew Knight Arena on Friday. No. 18 Arizona comes to town on Feb. 4. UCLA looms again on Feb. 9.

"They are the team to beat," Altman said of the Bruins. "We won a home game by two points. You're supposed to win at home. With their explosiveness, I still think they are the team to beat."

Wednesday night's game will be remembered for years as the one where Brooks hit that deep shot to win it. But maybe more importantly, for this team's goals this season, this night should be remembered as the night the Ducks finally started playing like a national title contender.

"We're feeling good," Brooks said. "Now we know we can do it. We can do it every time. Coach knows we can do it. Now we have to do it every single game."