Brooks, Boucher power Ducks past Bruins
EUGENE — A 34-point pasting at Arizona last season provided the wake-up call Oregon needed to ride a 9-1 finish to the regular season into a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
This year, Dillon Brooks believes Oregon State served up a similar lesson early in the Pac-12 opener, and the Ducks have taken that 13-point loss very much to heart.
"It's better to peak now, so it can last for a longer time," he said. "We came in second (in the conference) last year and we peaked later, so by peaking now, we have the remedy and we can take that first spot."
Brooks scored 25 points, one off his career high, and Chris Boucher had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead Oregon to an 86-72 win over UCLA on Saturday afternoon.
Elgin Cook added 17 points for the Ducks (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12), who won their 20th consecutive home game. Boucher led Oregon to a 42-32 rebounding advantage.
Boucher also had four blocks, and his pair of 3-pointers in the final four minutes provided the daggers as the Ducks pulled away to their 13th home win of the season.
"He really changed the game today with his blocks and guys were looking for him (on offense)," Oregon coach Dana Altman said of Boucher, who, like Brooks, hails from Canada.
"The two guys from north of the border were pretty good today."
Freshman Aaron Holiday led the Bruins (12-8, 3-4) with a season-high 19 points. Thomas Welch had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Oregon had a 42-30 advantage in points in the paint and an 18-13 edge in offensive rebounds.
"We just got killed on the glass," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "The difference in the game turned out to be offensive board play."
Bryce Alford, the Pac-12's fourth-leading scorer at 17.1 points per game, was held to 10 after shooting 3 of 13 from the field. Altman credited point guard Casey Benson's defensive play for keeping Alford under wraps.
"(Benson) fought through screens, and he kept a hand on the ball," Altman said. "Bryce is such a good offensive player and when he gets on a roll, he's really dangerous.
"I just thought Casey did a wonderful job."
Oregon outscored UCLA 23-14 over the final 8½ minutes after the Bruins had pulled within five at 63-58 and with two Ducks, Dwayne Benjamin and Tyler Dorsey, on the bench with four fouls apiece.
Cook made back-to-back baskets, the second on a soaring dunk down the lane, to put Oregon up by nine. Brooks made it 12 a short time later with his last two points before Boucher added the final touches with his 3s.
UCLA lost an early 9-5 lead when it couldn't keep track of Brooks, who nearly matched his season average with 14 points by halftime to help put the Ducks ahead 41-31. Oregon had just one turnover in the first half and a season-low seven for the game.
Brooks made 6 of 9 shots, including a long 3-pointer, to go with three offensive rebounds and two assists in the first half.
"I feel like I'm not just a scorer," Brooks said. "I'm more of an all-around player — playing defense, grabbing boards, doing the little things. Scoring is just a knack for me."
Further hampering the Bruins were three early fouls on Isaac Hamilton, UCLA's second-leading scorer on the season, who had just two points by halftime and finished with 10.
"I thought the start of the game was not what we wanted," Steve Alford said. "We quick-shot too much to start the game, then in the second half we started to get into more of a rhythm where we started having longer possessions and getting the shots we wanted."
A DESERT SHOWDOWN
Oregon's Dillon Brooks remembers all too well the three blowout losses the Ducks absorbed during his freshman season at the hands of Arizona. Now the sophomore can't wait for another shot at the No. 12 Wildcats, which comes Thursday night at McKale Center.
"Ever since we got beat here, there and in the Pac-12 (tournament), I can't wait to go there," Brooks said. "It's going to be a great game."
THE EYEBALL TEST
Oregon coach Dana Altman admits he had reservations about how the spindly Boucher, who carries just 190 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame, would hold up against Pac-12 big men when he was recruiting him in junior college.
"He's just a unique player," Altman said. "He's wiry strong, and we want that. His frame scared me when I first saw him a year ago, but he's fearless and he's got great feet and he's been a lot of fun to work with. He's a game-changer."
Boucher, who had his fifth double-double of the season, leads the conference in blocked shots with 65, which already ranks ninth on Oregon's career list.
UCLA: Bryce Alford cracked the Bruins' career top 40 in scoring with 10 points, giving him 1,183 to pass Walt Torrance ... UCLA ranked seventh in the Pac-12 in free-throw accuracy at 69.4 percent coming into the game, largely because Tony Parker has made less than half of his 98 attempts this season. Parker was 1 of 4 against the Ducks. Alford was 6 of 6 and leads the Pac-12 at 86.7 percent.
Oregon: Saturday's attendance of 10,525 was Oregon's largest home crowd of the season ... The Ducks' 20-game home winning streak is their longest since they won 23 in a row over two seasons in 2001-03. That run included a 16-0 record at McArthur Court in 2001-02 when Oregon claimed the Pac-10 regular-season title and reached the Elite Eight under coach Ernie Kent ... Otis Day sang his signature "Shout" from the 1978 movie "Animal House," which was filmed on the Oregon campus, during halftime ... Former Duck football stars and NFL rookies Marcus Mariota and Hroniss Grasu were seated courtside and introduced during the first timeout.
UCLA hosts Washington on Thursday.
Oregon plays at No. 12 Arizona on Thursday.