Oregon improves to 20-4 for the season and 9-2 in the conference race.

Dillon Brooks set a career high in scoring by knocking down 30 points and led the Oregon Ducks (20-4, 9-2) over the Utah Utes, 76-66 at Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday afternoon. Brooks also pulled down six rebounds and handed out nine assists.

“I thought our activity in the second half was pretty good,” said Dana Altman of his team’s win.  Again, points off turnovers and second chance points are always big stats for us. Not giving up a bunch of second chance points and winning those points on turnovers. I thought those two stats were key.”

Brooks was a man possessed hitting shots from all over the court and was particularly effective with his outside shots over a tenacious Utah zone defense that kept the Ducks out of the paint. Brooks hit two shots beyond the 3-point arc but he also had shot that he took a step inside the arc. Those long jumpers eventually caused the Utes to extend out and once that happened he went to the hoop.

“With the nine assists, I thought that was pretty good,” observed Altman of Brooks.” People tend to put everything on the offensive end. He had a great game offensively and he did, but he had six rebounds, nine assists, only two turnovers, had two steals, and I think he had a couple of communication gaps on defense. He’s had some great games. This ranks right up there. It was a good performance.”

Not only was Brooks producing the offensive points, but he was tasked to defend Jakob Poeltl, Utah’s star big man. Poeltl finished the day with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Brooks was helped in Oregon’s effort by 15 points and three blocked shots while Elgin Cook added 12 and Jordan Bell had 10 points and also thee blocks.

“Offensively he did a lot of good things,” Altman said of Brooks’ day. “He (Brooks) finished plays. Really pleased with the way he started the second half, when he got it in there and kicked it to Chris and got the dunk, and had two assists there early in the second half.”

Oregon shot 48.2 percent for the game on 30-of-62 shooting including 7-of-21 in 3-pointers and was 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Utah shot 50 percent on 25-of-50 field goals including 6-for-14 in threes and 10-for-14 from the charity stripe.

The Utes out rebounded the Ducks 30-28 but had six more turnovers (14-8). Oregon also had a shot-blocking advantage with a total of six to Utah’s three and the Ducks had three more steals (6-3) than the Utes.

While Utah’s bench outscored Oregon’s 19-13, the Ducks were surprisingly more productive in the paint by getting 36 points inside to Utah’s 28.

With the loss Utah falls to 17-7 for the season and 6-5 in conference action.

Oregon is now two full games out in front of second place USC in the conference race. While that will excite many fans, Altman has a different way of looking at where the conference is at and clearly will keep pointing out to his team that the season is not yet over.

 “I use a different formula to figure who is in the lead depending on the road,” cautioned Altman. 

“Arizona has five home (games) left, but only two road. Some teams the schedule flips. Now we have three at home and four on the road. My formula for figuring out how is in the lead and where everyone is at is a lot different.”

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