With the number one seed in the Pac-12 tournament and a share of the conference championship already clinched, the Ducks took on the Trojans with the goal of winning the Pac-12 championship outright. The USC Trojans on the other hand were looking to add a marquee win to their resume as Selection Sunday nears.
The Oregon offense came out cold as they missed the first three shots of the night, finally scoring on an Elgin Cook basket. The USC offense took advantage of the slow Ducks start as they jumped out to the early 7-2 lead. After trading baskets on both ends the Ducks found themselves down 6-11 at the first timeout of the game.
With both teams coming out of the timeout in a zone, the offenses found easy points in the paint. The Ducks did a great job in the early going controlling the offensive glass giving the poor shooting offense extra chances. At about the 14-minute mark it seemed like the Ducks found life thanks to the leadership of Elgin Cook. After three straight USC turnovers, Oregon tied the game up at the under 12 minute timeout, led by the 8 points of Cook.
Out of the break Oregon took their first lead of the game off of a Cook three pointer. After an 11-0 run, the Ducks held a 20-15 lead. Dwayne Benjamin had the highlight of the first half with a huge slam bringing the lead to 24-19. After the Ducks knocked down yet another shot, hitting eight out of nine straight, the lead was 26-19 Oregon at the under-eight minute timeout.
With a USC scoring drought of close to four minutes, the Oregon lead was extended to 31-19. An Elijah Stewart three pointer finally stopped the USC bleeding, cutting the lead back to less than ten.
With the first half winding down, one of the odder moments of the Pac-12 season occurred. All of a sudden the Galen Center lights went dark leaving both teams to return to their benches wondering if it was an act of conspiracy to stop the Oregon run. As the lights finally coming back on, both teams were allowed eight minutes to warm back up. Overall the delay lasted close to 25 minutes.
With the worry of getting cold after the delay, the Ducks were eased back into the game with two free throws from Cook. Following another hot stretch from the Ducks offense, the lead was pushed to 39-27 after a Tyler Dorsey jumper, showing that the restart didn’t have much of an impact.
After a Benjamin three, the lead was pushed up to 13 with just over two minutes to play in the half. With time winding down in the half, the Trojans went on a run to close the gap to 42-34. After trading buckets, Oregon went into halftime with a 44-37 lead to end the odd first half. Cook led the Ducks at the break with 13 points, while Dorsey trailed with 10 points. Oregon compiled the first half lead with Dillon Brooks only playing seven minutes thanks to picking up two early fouls.
USC came out of the break looking like a team desperate for a victory. After back-to-back buckets, the Oregon lead was down to just three. Tyler Dorsey broke the brief drought for the Ducks with a pair of free throws. After another USC run cut the lead to just one with 16:42 to play, Dana Altman was forced into a timeout to calm the Ducks down.
However, the timeout didn’t’ work as after a missed jumper from Dorsey, USC reclaimed the lead on a layup. With a tough Dorsey finish in the paint, the Oregon lead was immediately reclaimed.
At this point, the teams entered into a string of sloppy play. After a combined stretch of 2-17 shooting between the two teams, Oregon held a 54-52 lead with just over ten minutes to play. The bench was key for the Ducks in the early going of the second half as Jordan Bell and Dwayne Benjamin had success. With ten minutes to play, Oregon’s leading scorer Dillon Brooks had still yet to score.
Jordan Bell continued to impress with his post work, as he scored another bucket in the pain to push Oregon’s lead to 56-53. With just under eight minutes to play, Dillon Brooks scored his first basket of the night with a floater from the left. With just over seven minutes to play, the Ducks led 58-55 with a timeout on the court.
Oregon came out of the break hot as they looked to close out the game. Following a Casey Benson three pointer and a Dwayne Benjamin tip in, the Ducks lead was extended to 65-58. With just over four minutes to play, Brooks was forced to leave the game after being hit in the face by a USC player causing medical attention to fix a cut on his face. After a Dorsey three pointer, the Oregon lead was back to seven at the final media timeout of the game.
Dwayne Benjamin delivered the dagger with 1:32 to play as he nailed a three pointer with the shot clock running down to push the lead to ten. The Ducks held on the finish off the game for a 76-66 victory. With the victory, Oregon wins the Pac-12 outright, finishing with a 25-6 overall record and a 14-4 record in conference. Tyler Dorsey was the high scorer of the night with his 19 points, with Elgin Cook trailing with his 17 points and 12 rebounds. Next up for the Ducks is the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, where they will play as the number one seed on Thursday against the winner of the 8-9 matchup.
Doing it without Brooks. Dillon Brooks had one of his worst stretches this season over the last two games, yet Oregon still game away with two wins. Both of these victories were total team efforts as Cook and Dorsey stepped up as starters and the bench came up huge to replace Brooks’ struggles. Oregon will need this diversification come tournament time.
What a season it was. This one is obvious, but what a season this Oregon team has had so far. After going on the road to sweep the Southern California schools, the Ducks are beginning to make a serious case to be a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. Here’s to hoping to an exciting Pac-12 tournament and a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Oregon top performers.
Tyler Dorsey. 19 points, 3 rebounds.
Elgin Cook. 17 points. 12 rebounds.
Dwayne Benjamin. 14 points. 4 rebounds.