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Boucher leads No. 15 Oregon past Washington State, 85-66

Chris Boucher notches career-high 29 in absence of Dillon Brooks

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

PULLMAN, Washington — It’s no secret that Chris Boucher has been a valuable asset all season, and when No. 15 Oregon (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12) needed a leader to step up, the big man rose to the occasion, helping the Ducks pull away for an 85-66 win at Washington State (9-6, 2-1 Pac-12) on Saturday.

“Coach told me to just play my role, get my mind free and do what I have to do to help the team,” Boucher said. “Today was me, but like Coach said, ‘Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s you, but it’s always us.’ Today was my day, but as a team, we work hard, and it was a good victory as a team.”

Boucher poured in a career-high 29 points along with eight boards and three blocks in the absence of UO’s leading scorer Dillon Brooks, who was ejected with a flagrant foul. Leading up to the dismissal, Brooks went for a rebound, fell to the floor and kicked Josh Hawkinson (10p, 9r) in the groin on his way up.

In a tight battle between Pac-12 unbeatens, Brooks brought the energy early, scoring seven points over the first seven minutes to lead the team before the incident occurred.

“Dillon’s a big part of our team, but (coach Dana Altman) told us to play together and not give up,” Boucher said. “We knew it was going to be a 40-minute fight. We try our best to stay together when things like that happen.”

Without their leading scorer, the Ducks found firepower within Boucher, who tied the game at 22-all with a two-handed slam from Dylan Ennis.

WSU’s Viont’e Daniels (5p) and Malachi Flynn (10p) responded with back-to-back triples for the Cougars to take their largest lead to that point, 28-22, with about eight minutes to go.

Oregon held WSU without a field goal for the next 3:33, as Boucher hit the only field goals during that span, stretching the floor with a three and going inside for a layup.

Still, the Ducks trailed up until Payton Pritchard (7p) knotted the game with a layup to go into the break, 37-all.

UO began to click in the second half, thanks to early intensity from Ennis and Jordan Bell (11p, 4a), who joined the 1,000-point club.

Bell and Ennis scored 11 of the Ducks’ first 13 points of the period, sparking a 19-8 run in the process.

The Ducks continued to click down the stretch, stringing together 12 straight points to take their largest lead of the contest, 82-58, on the way to their 13th straight victory. Boucher highlighted the surge, dunking in between his fifth and sixth triple of the night.

The Ducks shot 54 percent from the floor and 52 percent (13-of-25) from downtown, while holding the home team to 50 and 37 (7-of-19) percent, respectively.

Four Cougars reached double figures in the scoring column, including Ike Iroegbu (12p, 6r), who became the 36th Cougar in program history to join the 1,000-point club.

The Ducks return to Eugene, where they’ll welcome Oregon State (4-13, 0-4 Pac-12) to Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday, Jan. 14. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT.

“We just have to move the ball, play for each other,” Boucher said of the Civil War. “If we keep playing together, great things are going to happen.”