Oregon Ducks

Oregon Ducks guard Dylan Ennis (31), shoots against Western Oregon forward Yanick Kulich (20), in an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)
AP Photo/Thomas Boyd

Brooks, Sorkin lead No. 23 Oregon past Western Oregon 93-54

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Preseason All-America Dillon Brooks scored 21 points and Roman Sorkin had 15 as No. 23 Oregon rolled to a 93-54 victory over Western Oregon on Wednesday night.

Chris Boucher added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Ducks (6-2), who won their fourth straight game and 29th in a row at home. Tyler Dorsey had 12 points.

Oregon made nine of its first 12 shots to go up by 14 points early and toyed with the Division II Wolves (4-4) the rest of the first half, shooting 16 of 26 to carry a 48-20 lead into the break.

The Ducks scored the first seven points of the second half to cap an 18-0 run and pushed their lead to a high of 51 with 5 minutes to play.

Oregon had a 52-27 edge in rebounds. Jordan Bell led with 12 and Kavell Bigby-Williams had 10.

Brian Berg led Western Oregon with 17 points and had five 3-pointers.

BIG PICTURE

Western Oregon: The Wolves, who won a school-record 31 games en route to the 2016 Division II Final Four, already have as many losses as they did all last season. The defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions were picked for sixth place this year.

Oregon: The soft portion of the Ducks’ schedule will allow coach Dana Altman to continue tinkering with his starting lineup, which included the 6-foot-10 Bigby-Williams for the first time Wednesday night. Altman had three of last year’s starters – Brooks, Bell and Casey Benson – coming off the bench at the first media timeout.

UP NEXT

Western Oregon travels to Montana State Billings on Monday night to resume GNAC play. The Wolves beat Concordia (Ore.) 80-70 on Tuesday.

Oregon plays the third of five straight home games when it hosts Savannah State on Saturday. The Ducks have all seven of their December games in the state of Oregon, including one against UNLV in Portland on Dec. 17.

 

Ennis scores 18 as No. 23 Oregon rallies past Boise St. 68-63

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 23: Dylan Ennis #31 of the Oregon Ducks shoots over Rodney Purvis #15 of the UConn Huskies during the second half of the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 23, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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EUGENE, Ore. — Growing pains are nothing new for the oldest veteran on Oregon’s roster, who may have finally found his comfort zone.

After missing most of the Ducks’ run to the Elite Eight last season because of a foot injury, sixth-year senior Dylan Ennis, a graduate transfer from Villanova, is still getting acclimated to his teammates.

Ennis scored 18 points and No. 23 Oregon rallied for a 68-63 victory over Boise State on Monday night.

Tyler Dorsey added 17 points for the Ducks (5-2), who came back from 14 down in the first half to win their 28th consecutive home game.

A 3-pointer by Ennis with 3:30 to play put Oregon ahead for the first time since early in the game.

“He probably played as well as anybody we had,” coach Dana Altman said.

Ennis also made nine of 10 free throws and had six rebounds in his best all-around game with the Ducks, but he was particularly pleased with his lone 3 when Oregon needed it most.

“That was one that was in rhythm and it just went down,” Ennis said. “I haven’t played with these guys at all. We’re still meshing in and we’re going to get it.

“Last year we had a few growing pains and at the end of the year we got it right, and that can happen this year as well.”

After Dorsey’s free throw gave Oregon a 66-63 lead, the Broncos (3-3) had a chance for a tying shot, but Paris Austin lost possession on a baseline drive with 5 seconds left. Dillon Brooks sealed the win with two free throws.

Brooks, a preseason All-America selection, had five points and shot 1 of 9 in 21 minutes off the bench in his fourth game back from offseason foot surgery.

“He had a bad game,” Altman said. “He was trying too hard, going way too fast.”

Austin led Boise State with 16 points. Nick Duncan added 15 on five of the Broncos’ 11 3-pointers.

Altman thought his team was lucky to come back after Boise State built its big lead from beyond the arc.

“When a team hits more than 10 3s, you’re fortunate to win playing as poorly as we did,” he said.

The Ducks finished with 10 blocks and a 39-32 rebounding edge. Chris Boucher led the way with five blocks and eight rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Boise State: The Broncos missed a shot at their fourth road win against a Top 25 opponent and third under seventh-year coach Leon Rice. Boise State beat unranked Oregon 74-72 last year in Boise.

Oregon: The Ducks won’t leave the state for their next eight games to finish 2016, capped by visits from No. 11 UCLA and USC in late December to start Pac-12 play.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oregon, which has dropped 19 spots since reaching a school-best AP ranking of No. 4 two weeks ago, should bounce back in the poll with six more games against unranked teams to finish its nonconference schedule.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Boise State had nine steals to Oregon’s three, a 15-9 edge in second-chance points and played the Ducks even on points in the paint at 20-20 – all of which left Altman shaking his head. “We got beat in every category,” he said.

ROLE PLAYER

Junior point guard Casey Benson, who is adapting to coming off the bench after starting the first four games and leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio last season, hit consecutive 3-pointers in the second half that helped spark Oregon’s comeback. “Those were two big shots,” Altman said. “We were stuck in the mud and couldn’t get anything going.”

UP NEXT

Boise State hosts SMU on Wednesday night before traveling to play Evansville as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge on Saturday.

Oregon hosts Western Oregon, which reached the NCAA Division II Final Four last year, on Wednesday night and then Savannah State on Saturday to continue a five-game homestand.

UConn drops to 2-4 with 79-69 loss to No. 13 Oregon

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 23: Jalen Adams #2 of the UConn Huskies reacts after having a foul called on him during the second half of the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 23, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Chris Boucher scored 21 points, Tyler Dorsey added 19 and No. 13 Oregon beat Connecticut 79-69 on Wednesday in the fifth-place game of the Maui Invitational.

Oregon (4-2) lost its opener to Georgetown, but bounced back with an overtime victory over Tennessee on Dillon Brooks’ long 3-pointer. The Ducks wanted to get off to a fast start in their Maui finale and did just that, racing to a 15-point lead in the opening 4 1/2 minutes.

UConn (2-4) chipped into the lead by halftime, but the Ducks started flying again, building the lead back up to 17.

Dylan Ennis had 15 points and Jordan Bell added 12 for Oregon, which shot 54 percent and made 9 of 21 from 3-point range.

RELATED: What’s been wrong with Oregon?

Jalen Adams led the Huskies with 27 points and Rodney Purvis added 13.

The Ducks attacked the Huskies from the opening tip, scoring the game’s first 10 points, racing out to an 18-point lead.

UConn coach Kevin Ollie called a timeout 41 seconds into the game and Adams, the Huskies’ leading scorer, headed to the bench at 17:03 after picking up his second foul

Oregon pushed the lead to 21, but the Huskies came roaring back.

UConn started hitting shots it was missing earlier, while the Ducks went more than 8 minutes without a field goal, trimming the lead to 39-28 by halftime.

Oregon revved up again to start the second half, hitting 5 of its first 7 shots to push the lead to 53-34.

UConn had one more run. The Huskies whittled away at the lead and got it down to eight with 3 minutes left, but couldn’t make up any more ground.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon finished the Maui Invitational with a flourish after a dud of a start. The Ducks should get better as Brooks, their leader, builds up stamina in his return from offseason foot surgery.

UConn’s young team is still trying to gel. The Huskies struggled against Oklahoma State’s pressure in the opener, Chaminade’s perimeter shooting the next game and the Ducks’ flock of athletes in the finale.

UP NEXT

UConn hosts Boston University on Nov. 30.

Oregon hosts Boise State on Monday.

What’s the matter with No. 13 Oregon?

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 22: Head coach Dana Altman of the Oregon Ducks watches the action during the second half of the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game against the Tennessee Volunteers at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 22, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. Oregon won the game 69-65. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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A day after the Ducks needed to rally just to keep the final score respectable in a loss to Georgetown, who were four days removed from a home loss to Arkansas State, No. 13 Oregon needed a three from the recently-returned Dillon Brooks in overtime to avoid succumbing to a Tennessee team picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC this season.

The final score was 69-65, which was unquestionably a better result than the 66-49 loss that the Ducks suffered at the hands of Baylor last week, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of performance that would remind people why Oregon entered the season as one of a handful of national title favorites.

It begs the question: What is wrong with Oregon? The way I see it, there are four problems that Dana Altman has to find a way to deal with:

 

1. Tyler Dorsey and Dana Altman aren’t on the same page: Dorsey entered the season as a guy a lot of people expected to have something close to a breakout season. He was a promising freshman, averaging over 13 points, that can be favorably compared to Joseph Young, who had so much success under Altman. With the pieces that the Ducks lost to graduation and without Brooks in the lineup for the first three games of the season, it only made sense that Dorsey would see a lot of shots and score a lot of points.

Only, it didn’t work out that way.

Dorsey had 21 in the season-opening win against Army, but he’s yet to break double-figures since then. In the last four games, he’s 10-for-37 from the floor (27.0%) and 2-for-13 from three (15.4%) while averaging just 6.5 points. Those two aren’t on the same page, and whether that’s a result of Dorsey being unhappy with his role in the offense or Altman being unable to find a way to utilize his ability, the bottom line is that Dorsey is not the player that we expected him to be.

That’s a problem because …

2. … we under estimated how much losing Dwayne Benjamin and Elgin Cook would hurt: Cook and Benjamin were seniors that stood 6-foot-6, were as athletic as anyone in the country and could guard – and play – multiple positions. They were so important in giving Altman the kind of lineup versatility that made Oregon so effective last season, and the Ducks simply don’t have anyone to fill that role this season.

The other part of it?

Cook was Oregon’s second-leading scorer last season at 14.8 points. Benjamin averaged 7.8 points off the bench. That’s more than 22 points per game that left, 28 percent of Oregon’s scoring from last season, which is why we have to ask …

3. … who is going to get buckets for Oregon?: We thought it was going to be Dorsey. We thought he was going to be the guy that buoyed Oregon’s offense early in the year, and that clearly hasn’t gone according to plan. Chris Boucher is an intriguing talent because of his unique skill-set, but offensively he’s a guy that needs to be set up, either for an open three-pointer or a dunk at the rim. Jordan Bell’s the same way, except he’s not knocking down many threes. Casey Benson isn’t a guy that looks to score, he’s a facilitator through and through. Payton Pritchard is a freshman that needs a year before he’s a focal point offensively. Dylan Ennis might be Oregon’s best offensive weapon right now and he’s a sixth-year senior that missed last season with a foot injury who has never averaged double-figures in his collegiate career.

Oregon is playing pretty good defense this season, much better than what they did last year. But they’re not scoring. Against Baylor, they mustered 49 points (0.817 PPP). Against Georgetown, they scored 61 points (0.859 PPP). Against Tennessee, they finished at 0.851 PPP. Those are the kind of numbers that Virginia’s record-setting defense would allow to good opponents, which should give you an idea of just how bad the Ducks have been.

An answer may be coming, however, because …

4. … Dillon Brooks isn’t right yet: This one is obvious, right?

Brooks missed the first two weeks of the season with a foot injury that had kept him out since July. He had eight points in 13 minutes against the Hoyas and went for 17 points in the win over Tennessee in 25 minutes. He looks a little rusty and a step slow, like he hasn’t played basketball in about four months. He should be back to his normal, all-american self in time.

The question for the Ducks is just how many of these question marks Brooks will answer.

He’ll make them more effective on the offensive end of the floor – that’s what happens when you plug in a guy that can get you 25 points on any given night – but is his presence the difference between a team that can win the Pac-12 and a team that was a possession away from playing Chaminade for last place in the Maui Invitational?

Dillon Brooks to return to Oregon’s lineup tonight

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks dunks the ball in the first half while taking on the Duke Blue Devils in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at the Honda Center on March 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The good news for Oregon is that they should be getting their all-american Dillon Brooks back this week.

The bad news?

He’s still not going to be at 100 percent.

After multiple reports over the weekend that Brooks would be available for the Maui Invitational, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Monday for the Ducks, head coach Dana Altman finally confirmed that Brooks would be available to play, according to ESPN.

The expectation is that Brooks will give the Ducks around 10 minutes off the bench.

“We will play Dillon on the exact schedule the doctor gives us,” Altman said. “You have to gradually come back.”

Brooks is a preseason all-american that averaged 16.7 points for the Ducks last season. He has been out with a foot injury since the summer.

The Ducks mustered all of 49 points in a 17 point loss at Baylor last week.

Baylor knocks off No. 4 Oregon

Baylor guard Ishmail Wainright (24) saves the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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It didn’t take long for Dillon Brooks’ absence to be felt by Oregon. Nor did it take long for Baylor to look like one of the Big 12’s best.

The fourth-ranked Ducks fell to the unranked Bears, 66-49, in Waco on Tuesday afternoon to take an early blemish with their All-American junior still sidelined with a foot injury.

Oregon (1-1) was stifled offensively throughout the game shooting 32.8 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from 3-point range as the Ducks made just three of their 21 attempts from beyond the arc.

Certainly, the Bears (2-0) deserve plenty of credit for putting the clamps on Oregon as their zone has confounded plenty of programs over the years with its length and unpredictability. It’s one of the most unique defenses in the sport, and certainly not easy to prepare for, especially for the first time.

Baylor’s performance looks even less dependent on Oregon’s personnel when Johnathan Motley goes for 17 points and seven rebounds, looking like an All-American, and Manu Lecomte adds 18 points and seven assists, looking like the point guard the Bears desperately need this season. Jo Lual-Acuil is asserting himself as a major asset in that zone with seven blocks.

This, without a doubt, was an early statement win for Baylor.

Still, it’s impossible not to wonder how large Brooks’ absence loomed. You remove a 16-point scorer who shot 47 percent overall and 33.8 percent from 3-point range plus who has the size to combat Baylor’s, it’s going to make things more difficult. Tyler Dorsey was just 4 of 14 from the floor while Dylan Ennis went 5 of 13.

This is without question a more important result for Baylor than it is for Oregon. The Bears get credit because they looked so strong, but the Ducks won’t be fully docked given Brooks was unable to suit up.

And the good news for Oregon is it sounds like Brooks will be back in action before too long. Fran Fraschilla, who was in Waco to call the game for ESPN, tweeted he believed Brooks would be ready to go within a week after watching him practice.