Oregon entered Saturday night in Boise looking to start a new winning streak following the win Monday against Navy. The Ducks started the game looking invigorated by the road atmosphere as well as the return of sophomore big man Jordan Bell.
Oregon got things off to a 9-3 lead thanks in large part to the 7 points from Dillon Brooks. But before you could blink an eye, turnovers from the Ducks and three pointers from the Broncos had things right back to a 9-8 game heading into the first time out.
Coming out of the under-16 minute timeout, Duck fans were graced with the first look at Jordan Bell of the year. With Bell coming in, the track meet continued as the Ducks pushed their lead to 21-11 while going on a 12-3 run thanks to the ten points from Brooks.
Yet all of a sudden it seemed like the Ducks hit an unmovable wall. Boise State went on a quick 10-0 run to tie things up fueled by Oregon turnovers, missed shots, and poor individual defensive efforts.
With Boise State jacking up threes thanks to the room given by poor closeouts the lead was extended to 35-25 Broncos until Elgin Cook finally responded with a dunk. The Ducks couldn’t take back the momentum however and went into the half down 41-28 while being worried about the health of Dwayne Benjamin who came up hobbling with just over a minute left. Oregon went into the half shooting a porous 35.7% while allowing Boise State 19 three point attempts.
The Ducks entered the second half stuck in the same slump they left the first half with. Giving up multiple rebounds on the defensive end, the Ducks weren’t able to chip away at all into the lead as the Broncos pushed it to a 12-point spread going into the first timeout of the half.
As the second half moved on it appeared that Dwayne Benjamin was not going to return as he put on his warm-ups. With Benjamin out of the game the Ducks relied on effort to get back in the game for the moment. With the Ducks getting to the free throw line they finally broke the ten-point barrier to cut the lead to 41-49. Oregon kept the roll going as they pushed it to a six-point deficit going into the under-12 timeout.
Boise State came out of the timeout with a run of their own to steal back the momentum of the home crowd pushing the lead back to 12, forcing Dana Altman to a timeout with eight minutes to play.
With the game reaching the tipping point it appeared I spoke too soon as Altman put Benjamin back into the game hoping to make one last run. Benjamin didn’t last long though and was pulled after not being able to keep up with the Ducks pushing the tempo. The offense finally started clicking for Oregon but it was the defense that kept being the weak link. The Ducks went into the final four minutes down 12 looking for a final run.
Dillion Brooks made things interesting with a three pointer around the three minute mark to make it just an eight point game. After two missed Boise State free throws, Elgin Cook nailed a three to bring the Ducks within just five. Back-to-back three pointers by Brooks and Cook left the Ducks down three with just one minute remaining.
After Kendall Small split a pair of free throws it was up to the defense to make a stand. The defense made that stand with a steal giving Oregon the ball back for the final possession. With the shot clock running down the isolated Dillon Brooks took the ball to the rim only to have a foul not called for a chance to take the game to overtime. With the ref putting his hand up looking like he was going to make the call, it’s a surprise that Brooks didn’t get the chance at foul shots. With the no call, the Oregon comeback fell short as the Ducks fell 74-72 dropping their record to 7-2.
What do you say, foul or no foul?
Defensive effort. Watching Chris Boucher on close outs is perhaps one of the more frustrating things I have watched in a while. Too many times the Ducks gave up three pointers and offensive rebounds due to a lack of position and effort on the defensive end. The Duck defense finally came around in the very end with key stops, but it was too little too late in this one.
Guard play. We knew that missing Tyler Dorsey for another game would hurt, but the effort we saw against Boise State was tough to watch. Had it not been for the late resurgence by Brooks there was nobody for Altman to rely on in the half court. Once Dorsey and Dylan Ennis return, the offense of this team should be very fun to watch.
A return to home. How nice will it be for the Ducks to finally return to Matt Knight Arena? It was not a good road trip as Oregon dropped to UNLV and a very tough loss to Boise State. The heart this team showed in the comeback was fantastic and I can’t wait to see how they respond once healthy.
Oregon players of the game:
Dillon Brooks. 26 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists.
Elgin Cook. 22 points, 7 rebounds
Tuesday, Dec. 15th vs UC Irvine.