SACRAMENTO — Dylan Ennis got the warning and Dillon Brooks got the technical foul.
Oregon’s two Canadians were called for taunting in the first half against Rhode Island beginning when Ennis hit a 3-pointer to put Oregon ahead 12-8 and turned to say something toward the Rams’ bench.
Five minutes later, Brooks got a tip-in to put the Ducks up 25-18, and the junior forward said he yelled, “It’s a big man’s game,” before he was quickly given a technical foul.
“We’d been warned, Dylan Ennis put us in that position, so the technical was correct,” coach Dana Altman said after Oregon rallied for a 75-72 victory over the Rams in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night at the Golden1Center. “We always talk about controlling what we can control, and I’m not sure we have had a technical all year. That was not a good time to get one.”
Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews made two free throws after the technical, and Rhode Island scored on 13 of its next 15 possessions to close the first half with a 46-38 lead.
“Being a more experienced guard, I have to keep my cool with that stuff,” Ennis said. “If we would have lost, then me and Dillon would have looked at ourselves and been really hurt.”
Altman sent Brooks to the bench after the technical, which came with 8:20 to go in the first half. It was his second personal foul.
“He knew how disappointed I and the whole team was in it,” Altman said. “It threw him off his game and gave him a second foul in the first half. We just can’t have mistakes like that.”
Brooks tried explaining to the referee that he was talking to himself.
“I wasn’t really looking at anybody, I was looking at the floor and said, ‘It’s a big man’s game,’ and he T’d me up,” Brooks said. “They were talking trash the whole game. Refs call what they want, and I know I have a target on my back and I have to keep my mouth quiet and play the game.”
Rhode Island outscored Oregon 9-5 before Brooks returned to the floor with 5:37 left in the first half.
“I’ve got to stay on the floor, because I feel like teams make runs and sometimes there’s no energy on the floor when I’m not out there,” he said.
Brooks scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half, and the Ducks outscored Rhode Island 37-26 to earn the victory. He hit a 3-pointer to get Oregon within 64-60 and added three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt right before the shot-clock buzzer to cut the lead to 66-63.
Brooks gave Oregon its first lead of the second half at 68-66 on a 3-pointer with 4:50 left.
“He got us back in the game there, no doubt,” Altman said.
The coach cautioned Brooks that his technical foul could have eliminated the third-seeded Ducks earlier than expected.
“I told him after the game, how would you have felt in a close ballgame like this if that was the difference?” Altman said.
Instead, it served as a lesson for the Ducks as they head to Kansas City to face seventh-seeded Michigan at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“Let our game speak for itself and go out there and play,” Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey said. “If they want to talk, that’s not how we play, and coach always preaches that, so that is all there is to it.”