Dillon Brooks Clutch Again as Oregon Escapes Cal 68-65

Down by 16 points at one point, Dillon Brooks and his Oregon teammates were not rattled from the deficit. After weathering the storm from a raucous Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, the Ducks slowly began to chip away the deficit. With the game tied with under ten seconds to play, no doubt from Oregon who was going to get the ball.

Brooks delivered the dagger to give No. 6 Oregon a 68-65 comeback victory over California. As he did against Tennessee and UCLA, Brooks once again showed why he is the definition of clutch. Even with four fouls, Brooks and his teammates rallied throughout the second half to have a chance for victory. Aggressive defense and pushing the tempo caused Cal to make mental errors where Oregon took advantage.

(Photo: Scott Olmos, USA TODAY Sports)

Oregon took their first lead late in the second half after Chris Boucher was left alone under the basket causing a roar from the Ducks’ fans at Cal. A stunned Haas Pavilion tried to rally the Bears, but the Ducks would not let victory fall from grasp. A 13-2 run by Oregon sparked the momentum change which ultimately led to Brooks’ game winner. Cal looked to make a stop to force overtime but left too much time for Oregon to execute.

In recent games, Tyler Dorsey has been the unsung hero for Oregon through his quiet, but efficient scoring. Against Cal, he struggled to make an impact and did not score his first basket until under ten minutes were left to play in the game. But his basket helped Oregon as the next possession closed the deficit to five points. Cal, however, would make five-straight free throws to extend the lead back to 10.

The Ducks again rallied after Dylan Ennis and Payton Pritchard hit back-to-back three-pointers to pull within one of the Bears at 59-58. In the first half, the Ducks could hit from long range going 0-7. Boucher found his stroke in the second half to help keep Oregon within reach of Cal. Oregon would finish 7-21 from the three-point arc.

Despite being out-rebounded 36-24, Oregon made up by winning the turnover battle 14-7 which sparked the second half comeback. Oregon was held to 16 points in the first half which was their lowest point total on the season. The previous mark was 21 points in a loss to Georgetown. Although Brooks did not score his first basket until late in the first half, he would end up leading the Ducks with 22-points on the night.

Cal’s Jabari Bird had 20 points to lead the team. With the team sitting fourth in the Pac-12, the Bears were looking to remain to earn a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. An already impressive resume for the NCAA Tournament, a win over Oregon would have certainly guaranteed a spot in the big dance. Unfortunately, Cal could not ride the momentum from the start and left the court in disbelief after Brooks’ game winner.

The Bay Area has been unkind to Oregon in recent years. Oregon’s start against Cal certainly had the makings for a disappointing loss after struggling to hit a basket. Cal took advantage by going on a 12-0 run before Oregon made a basket to stop the bleeding. Although trailing 30-16 at halftime, Oregon was in range to leave Berkeley on top.

Due to Oregon’s poor shooting, Cal took advantage through their transition game. The quick change caused Oregon to take unnecessary fouls leaving a few Ducks in foul trouble early. However, Oregon turned the tide in the second half through their transition. By pressing on defense, Oregon forced turnovers on Cal which got Dana Altman’s squad back in the game.

With the win, Oregon keeps the pressure on Arizona who has a critical matchup at home against UCLA. The Ducks still have a chance at the Pac-12 regular season title should the Wildcats falter. Oregon has the tiebreaker after defeating Arizona earlier this season in Eugene.

Game Note:

Plenty of high-profile people were on hand at Haas Pavilion to watch Oregon play Cal. The biggest coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors. With his team on break from the NBA All-Star festivities the past weekend, Kerr was perhaps scouting players. After witnessing Brooks’ clutch performance, maybe Kerr will want to add Brooks through the draft to add to an already talented team.

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