Brooks, Oregon beat Illinois
CHICAGO — Oregon basketball coach Dana Altman believes freshman forward Dillon Brooks has both talent and instincts.
He just needs to be consistent.
“When he’s on, he’s a handful. He just has to be on more often,” Altman said.
Brooks gave a glimpse of what he can do when he’s consistent. He scored 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting and Oregon rallied to beat Illinois 77-70 on Saturday night.
“Coach always told me to put the time in the gym before practice and after practice and it’ll come easier,” Brooks said. “I did that, and I guess it’s paying off right now.”
Overall, the Ducks played their best game of the season, Altman said.
Oregon used an 11-0 run to turn a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead with 1:31 left. Illinois was scoreless for 4:34 during that span.
“We didn’t come all this way to lose,” Oregon guard Ahmaad Rorie said.
Joseph Young scored 15 points and Dwayne Benjamin added 13 for the Ducks, who were playing their first true road game of the season.
Rorie scored 11 and Elgin Cook had 10.
Rayvonte Rice tied his career high with 29 points for the Illini, who led by as many as 13 and fell to 35-13 all-time at the United Center.
“Obviously, we need more balance with our scoring,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well.”
Brooks made two free throws for a 73-67 Oregon lead with 1:11 remaining. But Rice nailed a 3 with 44 seconds left to cut Oregon’s lead to three.
Rorie all but sealed the Ducks’ victory when he hit a jumper with 12 seconds for a 75-70 lead.
Illinois’ Aaron Cosby missed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left before Rorie made a layup for the final score.
Groce said his team fouled too many jump shooters, giving the Ducks eight free throws. Oregon went 12 of 15 at the free-throw line.
“We didn’t finish the game the last 5 minutes, up four,” Groce said. “You hate to turn the ball over three times and foul two jump shooters. You want to make them make field goals rather than make free throws.”
Oregon shot 46 percent from the field to Illinois’ 36 percent. The Ducks also scored 40 points in the paint to the Illini’s 20.
Groce agreed with Altman — that was the best Oregon has played this season. The Ducks had 20 assists on 30 field goals.
“They were efficient, they shared the ball,” Groce said. “That was the best I’ve seen Young pass the ball.”
Oregon: The Ducks wore black uniforms with yellow trim and letters for the first time this season. . Cook was issued a technical foul after yelling at an Illinois player after he scored a put-back basket to tie it 2-2 with 19:13 left before halftime. . Oregon has five freshmen and two sophomores.
Illinois: G Kendrick Nunn made his first start of the season in place of Cosby, who was averaging 9.1 points. Nunn finished with six points. Groce said he will determine who starts next. . The Illini had won three of four at the United Center, including a 74-60 victory over Illinois-Chicago last season.
OFF THE BENCH
Young, Oregon’s leading scorer for the season at 20.4 points per game, came off the bench. Altman said Young did not start because he “didn’t take care of a team rule.” Young finished with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting and had five assists and four rebounds in a team-high 33 minutes.
Altman was happy for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday.
“Every time I’d go to football to watch practice — a lot of times I’d go once a week — he’d always make it a point to come over and speak and that’s since he was a freshman redshirt,” Altman said.
Oregon: Hosts Cal State Northridge on Wednesday.
Illinois: Hosts Hampton on Wednesday.