Brooks' dagger sinks No. 2 Bruins
EUGENE — Ten years ago at McArthur Court, it was Oregon's Aaron Brooks with the shot that knocked off No. 1 UCLA.
This time the dagger was in the hands of Dillon Brooks, and he delivered against the No. 2 Bruins, too.
Brooks hit a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to give No. 21 Oregon an 89-87 victory Wednesday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
Brooks, who finished with 23 points and nine rebounds, grabbed Bryce Alford's missed free throw with 8.9 seconds to go, dribbled to the right wing and pulled up for the game-winning shot.
"It's amazing," Brooks said. "You work on your game every day and you dream of that moment.
"I want more moments like that for my team."
Payton Pritchard added 15 points and nine assists for the Ducks (12-2, 1-0), who won their 10th consecutive game and pushed the nation's second-longest home winning streak to 34 games. Pritchard's 3-pointer pulled Oregon within one with 12.9 seconds left to set the stage for Brooks' shot.
Brooks said Oregon coach Dana Altman called "pop" for the final shot and the ball was supposed to find the hot-handed Pritchard, who hit three of Oregon's 11 3-pointers. Instead, Brooks used a screen by Jordan Bell to squeeze off the game-winner.
"We had an option to get to the basket or shoot it," Altman said, "and (Brooks) felt like he liked the shot and he was right. Who am I to argue?
"Dillon likes those big moments and hit or miss, he's willing to take the consequences for it."
That included being swarmed by Bell and his teammates at the other end of the court before the officials could clear the court for a final possession by UCLA, which didn't come close with its shot.
"I was running away from it," Brooks said of the celebration, "but Jordan just tackled me."
Thomas Welch had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins (13-1, 0-1), and Alford had 20 points. Lonzo Ball added 14 points and TJ Leaf had 13.
UCLA was trying to match its best start to a season in 10 years, but Alford missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Alford was shooting a team-best 87.0 percent at the free-throw line this season.
"That's who we want at the line," UCLA coach Steve Alford said of his son. "More times than not he makes shots to get us back in it and that's the guy we want at the free throw line."
The Bruins came in as the nation's best shooting team and fourth-best beyond the arc, and they nearly hit those marks by going 34 of 64 overall (53.1 percent) and 11 of 25 (44.0 percent) on 3-pointers.
However, UCLA also had 14 turnovers against 19 assists and lost the rebounding battle 37-35.
The Bruins used a 15-0 run sparked by three straight 3s by Ball midway through the second half to take a 72-65 lead. UCLA was up by eight with 4 minutes to play before Pritchard sparked Oregon's final rally with seven points.
"Credit to them," Bryce Alford said. "First and foremost they made big-time plays (and) hit some really tough shots.
"Their last two 3s were highly contested, fadeaway 3s, so they made big-time plays but we have to be much better on the defensive end."
Oregon beat the Bruins at their own game in the first half, pushing a 100-point pace with 11 assists on its first 14 field goals and shooting 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
The Ducks also held Leaf, UCLA's leading scorer, without a shot for the first 11½ minutes. A 16-5 run had Oregon up by 12 late in the half before UCLA closed with a 10-3 burst to trail at the break for only the second time this season.
UCLA missed a chance to grab an early edge in the Pac-12 race by failing to knock off the defending champs on their own court.
Oregon finally found the spark it was missing during nonconference play with the stunning upset against the highest-ranked opponent to play in Eugene during Altman's seven seasons as coach.
Letting Oregon escape at the buzzer will cost UCLA a few spots in the rankings after the Bruins went through the nonconference season perfect for the first time since 1995.
Oregon likely will jump back up in the rankings if it takes care of business against No. 22 USC. The Ducks reached an all-time high of No. 4 early in the season before tumbling as far as 24th after two early losses.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: Oregon leads the nation with 108 blocked shots but finished with one to six for the Bruins.
ON A ROLL: The sellout crowd of 12,364, including Nike co-founder Phil Knight, made an impression on UCLA senior Bryce Alford, who was part of a big upset of then-No. 1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena earlier this season. "There's a reason they don't lose here," Alford said of the Ducks' 34-game home winning streak. "They're a big-time basketball team and it's a big-time atmosphere."
HE SAID IT: Always the cautious one even after a victory, Altman said he still considers the Bruins the favorite to win the Pac-12. "We won a home game by two points, and you're supposed to win at home," he said. "With their explosiveness, they're still the team to beat. They're still a level above us right now."
ALSO IN THE HOUSE: Representatives from 11 NBA teams, including the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers and 2015 champion Golden State Warriors, were in attendance Wednesday night.
UCLA will go for the road split to open Pac-12 play at Oregon State on Friday night.
Oregon faces another unbeaten team when it hosts No. 22 USC on Friday night.