Chris Boucher

Four Ducks set to workout at NBA combine, follow CSN for coverage

Four Ducks set to workout at NBA combine, follow CSN for coverage

Oregon made a historic run to the Final Four last season and now four key catalysts from that team will participate in the 2017 NBA Draft Combine Thursday and Friday in Chicago, Ill.

Forwards Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell and Chris Boucher, along with guard Tyler Dorsey, were invited to the annual event where NBA executives and scouts will size up the talents of players hoping to get selected in June's NBA Draft.

The 67 invited players will participate in five-on-five games and go through strength and agility drills at Chicago’s Quest Multisport.

For information on the former Ducks' progress, check back to CSNNW.com for coverage from Trail Blazers insider Jason Quick and follow him on Twitter @JWQuick.

The Trail Blazers have three picks in the first round of the draft? Could one be an Oregon Duck?

NBADraft.net projects Bell to be a late first-round pick, and for Boucher and Brooks to go late in the second round. Dorsey is not projected by the website to get selected.

 

Oregon's Chris Boucher is devastated but supportive

Oregon's Chris Boucher is devastated but supportive

KANSAS CITY - Oregon senior forward Chris Boucher expected to be an integral part of the Ducks' run at a Final Four appearance. 

His shot blocking, rebounding, inside and outside scoring prowess figured to help UO make such a run. Then, it all came crashing down for Boucher while attempting to block a shot against California during the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament two weekends ago in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The next day, Boucher was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. He since has been relegated to cheerleader while the No. 3 Ducks (32-5) have carved out a path to the Elite Eight where they will face No. 1 Kansas (31-4) on Saturday night. 

"Well, it's been hard for sure, but seeing my team getting into the tournament and all covers for it a little bit," Boucher said today during media availability at the Sprint Center. "You always want to be on the floor and play. Definitely hurts sometimes to watch them do it so good and you can't do anything about it."

Senior guard Dylan Ennis can relate. He missed virtually all of last season with a foot injury that forced him to watch Oregon reach the Elite Eight without him. 

"As a senior, I know how hard it is and lucky I got my year back, but him going through this his senior year he's been a big part of this and especially with him on the bench he's so encouraging and he's taken that role as being the next coach, that positive reinforcement," Ennis said. "So everything he is doing we can't be more grateful for him."

Oregon lost the Pac-12 Tournament championship game to Arizona without Boucher, but has won three NCAA Tournament games since. Still, it's obvious that the Ducks miss his 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game. Losing him has placed more pressure on junior forward Jordan Bell to protect the rim. 

"We lost our advantage with the blocks with Chris," Altman said. "We were averaging almost seven blocks a game with him, and I think in the four games without him now I think we have eight total. So Jordan has become a little less aggressive with his blocks, trying to stay out of foul trouble. He's done a great job of picking up rebounding. Chris was our second leading rebounder and third leading scorer besides being the guy who blocked the most shots. Defensively we've slipped. Our numbers in the last four games are not as good as they were previous to him going down. So we've tried to make up for that a little bit offensively."

To do what he can, Boucher said he watches games intently looking for details he can pass on to teammates. 

"I'm just trying to help my team and tell them what I could see from the bench and they could go from there," Boucher said.

It's something, but not what Boucher and Ducks had planned for his role to be during this this time of the season. 

Oregon's resolve, guile and heart deserve admiration after 69-68 win over Michigan

Oregon's resolve, guile and heart deserve admiration after 69-68 win over Michigan

KANSAS CITY - Oregon senior guard Dylan Ennis put his head down in disappointment after missing his second front end of one-and-one free throw attempts in the final two minutes Thursday night, the latter coming with the Ducks leading 69-68 over Michigan at the Sprint Center. 

Ennis felt deflated, knowing that having made the first of his second one-and-one attempt would have given his team a two-point lead with 15 seconds remaining in the game. Making two at the end would have put the No. 3 Ducks up three. 

"I went straight over to him," Oregon junior guard Casey Benson said, describing how he offered Ennis encouragement.

But Ennis, a 74.8 percent free throw shooter, didn't need much of a pep talk. He knew he had to find a way to make amends with Michigan having one final chance at pulling out a victory. 

Ennis, as it turned out, ended up on Michigan senior guard Derrick Walton Jr.   Ennis made it difficult on Walton, a deft penetrator who ultimately settled for a deep jumper that banged off the rim at the buzzer. Ducks win, 69-68 to advance to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. 

"If they hit that shot, it's on you," Ennis said, "and I didn't want to live with that for the rest of my life. So I dug in."

Oregon (32-5) has made digging in a habit this postseason. When this season comes to a close - national champions, or not - these Oregon Ducks should be remembered for their guts, guile and heart. All three have carried them through no matter what obstacles stand in their way. Some have been created by their own doing. Some have come about because of bad luck. Others were the result of strong play from a worthy opponent, such as Michigan.

"The team with the most heart won," UO forward Dillon Brooks said. 

That Oregon, which will face No. 1 Kansas on Saturday, made it this far is not shocking. But that they have twice overcome being eliminated by finding a way win over and over has been impressive. The Ducks, minus star forward Chris Boucher (knee) this postseason, easily could have lost in the second to Rhode Island, but pulled out a 75-72 lead thanks to shutting down the Rams over the final few minutes and getting two huge three-point shots from sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey. 

Several clutch plays defined Thursday night's win. No. 7 Michigan (26-12) led 68-65 when Ennis missed his first front end of a one-and-one. That could have proven to be devastating. But junior forward Jordan Bell slithered his way underneath Michigan's big men to gather the rebound and put it back in with a reverse layup to make the score 68-67. 

After the game, Ennis joked that he owed Bell dinner for "saving his life." Bell joked that his teammate certainly owed him something. But most of all, several of Oregon's players said that that's just how they do things. As a team. Having one another's backs. Picking one another up. Remaining strong. 

"We were just playing tough," Brooks said. "Teams are going to go up and we're going to go down. But we're not going to get discouraged."

After one of the team's three defensive stops over the final two minutes, Dorsey ended up with the ball and Oregon down 68-67. He fiercely grinded his way to get off a shot. Driving left. Getting stopped. Faking. Spinning. Getting his defender into the air. Then he smoothly floated in a layup for the lead. 

"Do whatever you can to win," Bell said. 

Michigan was labeled as the team of destiny after experiencing a minor plane crash earlier this month prior to the start of the postseason. Maybe now it's Oregon that has some of that destiny stuff working for it right about now. 

"It's just exciting to move on to the next game and have another opportunity to go to the Final Four," Benson said. 

The Ducks were blasted last season by Oklahoma in the Elite Eight during that attempt to reach the Final Four. They weren't quite ready for that level of play. Saturday against Kansas will be very difficult. Its fan base has taken over the Sprint Center and it helped propel the Jayhawks to a 98-66 win over No. 4 Purdue. 

The Ducks will need every bit of their defensive prowess and the tenacity they displayed Thursday night to get through that game. 

"That's what kind of defense we need for 40 minutes," Brooks said. "The offense will come. Tonight it didn't."

Oregon in many ways is inferior to Kansas. Missing Boucher could really finally catch up with the Ducks on Saturday.

"I feel really bad for Chris, just because it's tearing him up," UO coach Dana Altman said. "He wants to be out there so bad, help his teammates.

The Ducks might go down Saturday. But it won't be without a fight. And it won't be because they lacked the heart to stand in there, take big blows and fire back with desire. 

Oregon's Kavell Bigby-Williams working on avoiding foul trouble

Oregon's Kavell Bigby-Williams working on avoiding foul trouble

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Oregon junior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams has no qualms about mixing it up inside with the physical playing style of Rhode Island on Sunday during the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

“I see myself as a physical guy and I feel like I’m a guy that can bang inside so I’m looking forward to the challenge," he said following practice Saturday afternoon at the Golden 1 Center.

At 6-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Bigby-Williams has the physique to stand up to the physical style of play the Rams will bring to the court. The question is whether or not Bigby-Williams can avoid foul trouble enough to remain a factor in the a game. 

Bigby-Williams will be needed to perform well if the Ducks (30-5) are able to overcome the loss of 6-10 forward Chris Boucher, out for the season with a knee injury. The book on the talented Bigby-Williams, however, is that he has frequent battles with consistency and foul trouble. 

He racked up four fouls in 14 minutes during the team's 93-77 win Friday over Iona in the first round. On the season, Bigby-Williams has committed 49 personal fouls in 324 minutes, or one every 6.6 minutes. For comparisons sake; UO forward Jordan Bell averages a personal foul every 15.5 minutes (64 in 992 minutes). Boucher averaged a personal foul every 8.9 minutes (83 in 730). 

Bigby-Williams' potential is obvious. Over every 30 minutes of action, he averages roughly 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game. Such production would come in handy for the Ducks. But for that to happen, Bigby-Williams must be able to stay on the court for longer stretches before getting into foul trouble. 

Some fouls he picks up, Bigby-Williams said, are the product of mental lapses. Others just come from him playing too aggressively, which UO coach Dana Altman says he can accept. Bigby-Williams gave UO six rebounds in his 14 minutes against IO

For the most part, Bigby-Williams said he merely needs to continue to grow as a player to avoid getting into foul trouble. 

“I feel like I need to go out there and relax and by myself," he said. "Sometimes I’m thinking about things too much and it affects me. but I feel like now that  I’m getting more time I can show what I can do and hopefully I can keep getting better.”

Five musts for the Oregon Ducks to win it all

Five musts for the Oregon Ducks to win it all

Before last week's Pac-12 Tournament I gave the Oregon Ducks about a 25 percent chance to reach the Final Four and a 15 percent chance to claim the national title. Then senior forward Chris Boucher went down and out with a knee injury during the semifinals. 

Gone went the availability of the 6-foot-10 shot blocking, rebounding, stretch-four three-point shooting and power dunking beast who is undoubtedly the team's second best all-around player next to junior forward Dillon Brooks. 

It's a devastating blow for the Ducks, a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional who begins tournament play at 11 a.m., Friday against No. 14 Iona in Sacramento, Calif. For me the loss of Boucher reduces Oregon's chances of making a deep run into the tournament to about five percent to the Final Four and a one percent chance for the Ducks to claim their first national title since 1939.  Las Vegas oddsmakers dropped the Ducks' odds of winning the national title from 12-1 before the Pac-12 Tournament to 25-1. Conference rivals Arizona and UCLA both sit at 12-1. Why the shift for UO? It's all about the absence of Boucher.

It remains possible that the Ducks could get red-hot and rattle of six wins to take it all. Lesser teams have done so in the past. But for that to happen, which would likely include having to take down No. 2 seed Louisville and No. 1 seed Kansas, Oregon would need at least five specific occurrences to take place. And, it simply just doesn't appear to be plausible to expect all five to occur on six consecutive nights. 

Here they are:

1. Kavell Bigby-Williams must consistently deliver:  The 6-10 junior transfer gave the Ducks three points, six rebounds and two blocked shots during 14 minutes of action in UO's 83-80 loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 title game. If he shows up like that six more times, UO could be in business. However, here is the rub: If he were capable of delivering such solid performances in the pressure of a NCAA Tournament then why wasn't he seeing more consistent playing time during the regular season? UO coach Dana Altman didn't lean on him for more than 9.7 minutes per game for a reason. Altman doesn't fully trust him. Bigby-Williams rarely received 10 or more minutes in games that weren't blowouts. During a 75-73 win at Stanford on Feb. 25, he played 10 minutes but picked up three fouls in that time. He had three fouls and two turnovers in 12 minutes of action during a 79-61 win at home over Utah on Feb. 16. Such performances are what led Altman to play Bigby-Williams for just nine minutes over the first two conference tournament games. But to his credit, he did play well against the Wildcats. But can he do that again, and again, and again?  If so, UO would at the very least have an adequate big man off the bench to help grab rebounds and defend bigs. But if he starts turning over the ball and getting into foul trouble, he becomes a liability that UO has no real replacement for. We can't completely forget about the 6-10 Roman Sorkin. But, again, we're talking about a guy Altman has not displayed much trust in. Sorkin has played just 8.1 minutes per game on the season, has never received more than 10 minutes in a close game and didn't play at all in the final two games of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Ducks desperately need Bigby-Williams to round into top form on a nightly basis right now. 

2. Great Tyler Dorsey must maintain a consistent presence: When this guy is hot, Oregon is tough to beat. When he is bad, the Ducks have survived in the past only because others picked him up. Not having Boucher around to be that consistent force next to Brooks means Dorsey cannot play poorly in any game after the second round if UO is going to advance. In 14 games this season, Dorsey made just three field goals or fewer while shooting 22.7 percent (23 of 101). In six of those games he made just one or zero baskets. That's 14 of the team's 34 games, or 41 percent of the time, in which Dorsey's game simply vanished. If past is prologue, then it stands to reason that if Oregon played six NCAA Tournament games Dorsey would have two or three such outings. Now, Dorsey was brilliant in the Pac-12 Tournament. He made 22 of 42 shots (9 of 19 from three) while averaging 22.3 points per game. Oregon needs that Dorsey to show up nightly because the Ducks won't have the depth to pick him up when he struggles without Boucher around. When Dorsey struggled early during the Pac-12 title game, Oregon fell behind by 14 with Brooks carrying the load. Once Dorsey got rolling and put up 21 in the second half, the Ducks came back and almost stole the title. He needs to do that every night during the NCAA Tournament. The night he doesn't against a good team, UO is done. 

3. Payton Pritchard must get rolling again: The freshman out of West Linn went from looking like a legitimate contributor to disappearing over the past four games. In the stretch he made five of 17 shots for 3.9 points per game. In the final two Pac-12 Tournament games, Pritchard made just one of six shots for four points with a weak five assists over 54 minutes. That can't continue. Pritchard must be a consistent threat to either score or be a deft distributor. When he plays well, he takes pressure off of senior guard Dylan Ennis, who has his own battles with inconsistent play, and makes it less of a necessity for UO to lean on junior backup guard Casey Benson, who can't be relied upon to provide consistent offense.  To Pritchard's credit, he committed just one turnover during the team's three Pac-12 Tournament games, but that's in part because he played it safe most of the time and merely acted as a conduit to push the ball to someone else who might take a chance at making a play. Pritchard is better than that. He has hit clutch shots this season. He has come up big in big games (15 points, nine assists against UCLA at home on Dec. 28). He has had double-digit assists. He can play at a high level. That Pritchard must return in order for the Ducks to make a deep run. 

4. Jordan Bell must avoid foul trouble: Oregon's three-guard lineup with Brooks playing power forward only works because of Bell's ability to patrol the middle on defense as a fearless rebounder and shot blocker. In the past, if he faced some foul trouble (he rarely does), UO could turn to Boucher. Not anymore. Bell committed just three fouls over 102 minutes played during the Pac-12 Tournament while blocking eight shots. That's phenomenal. He has to remain on the floor and give the Ducks that type of production against elite opponents in order for UO to advance. If he is limited by foul trouble and the Ducks are forced to turn to Bigby-Williams and Sorkin for long stretches, the Ducks could be in huge trouble. 

5. Brooks must carry this team like a player of the year should: He can't be sloppy. He must play intelligently. He has to be calculated with his aggression. But in order for UO to advance far in this tournament it will need Brooks to be even more special than he was during the regular season. No hiccups. If the Pac-12 player of the year has a game in the NCAA Tournament like he did against California during the Pac-12 semifinals when foul trouble limited him to 21 minutes and he scored just 10 points on 3 of 12 shooting, UO's season ends that day. He is going to have to make big shots in clutch moments to stop opposing runs and to bail out the rest of the team when they struggle. He might also need to hit a buzzer-beater, or two, along the way. In the Cal game, Boucher came off the bench for 10 points in 24 minutes. The rest of the bench, Bigby-Williams and Benson, offered five points in 30 combined minutes. Brooks can't have bad nights, especially beyond the first two rounds. 

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If all five of the above happen, the Ducks will make it to the Final Four in Glendale, Ariz., and give anyone there a run for their money. If not, UO will fall to advance further than it did last season when the Ducks' run ended in the Elite Eight. 

 

Oregon displays heart but lacks national championship feel minus Boucher

Oregon displays heart but lacks national championship feel minus Boucher

LAS VEGAS - Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks bristled Saturday night at the idea that the loss of senior forward Chris Boucher for the rest of the season with a knee injury might change the Ducks' mindset entering the NCAA Tournament next week. 

"What, Chris is going to be out and we're just going to stop winning, stop competing?" Brooks said following a disappointing 83-80 loss to No. 7 Arizona in the Pac-12 title game at T-Mobile Arena. "That's not it."

The Pac-12 player of the year said the goal remains to win the national championship. His defiance and determination matched that of the team during the game. Oregon (29-5) rallied from 14-points down in the second half to nearly steal the title game just hours after learning the bad news regarding Boucher, who injured his knee Friday night in the semifinals against California.

The fact that UO nearly pulled out the win minus Boucher should give the team confidence that it can carry on. However, the reality is that the 6-foot-10, shot erasing big man with three-point range makes it a serious long shot that the Ducks could pull out three or four games like Saturday's to win the national championship. 

Boucher is that good. Oregon is that limited without him. The field is too strong, at this point, to even make reaching the Final Four appear to be anything short of daunting. 

Boucher left the game in tears after the team's loss. The team felt his pain but didn't blame the loss on his absence. 

"Chris is a very talented young man, and he's a big part of our team," UO coach Dana Altman said. "But that's part of any season. I just feel really bad for Chris. He's a wonderful young man, and it's really hard for him. It was a big blow to our team this morning. We were all kind of down, because he's one of the most popular guys on the team. He's the one guy that picks everybody up. He's a wonderful young man."

And a key part to what made the Ducks resemble a national title contender. Boucher is Oregon’s third-leading scorer (11.1 points per game) and No. 2 rebounder (6.1). Oh, and he leads the Pac-12 in blocked shots per game (2.6), which also ranks 17th in the nation. 

None of that will be easily replaced. Arizona outrebounded Oregon 35-25 and the Wildcats' bench produced 23 points compared to just three for the Ducks. 

The Ducks fortunately have another big to lean on in Kavell Bigby-Williams. He played nine minutes in the first two tournament wins after contributing just 9.5 minutes per game on the season. But he didn't disappoint. 

He said he felt confident in his abilities and that he can bring the same energy Boucher does to the floor and gave UO three points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 14 minutes. 

"I thought Kavell played really well," Altman said. "I thought he really gave us a big lift defensively.

Said Bigby-Williams: "I felt like I did okay, but we didn't win the game so I must not have done enough." 

Moving forward, Bigby-Williams will need to play like he did on Saturday for the Ducks to survive without Boucher. But clearly it won't be all on him to make this work. 

"Coach said it's not just one person," Bigby-Williams said. "Everyone has to step up in different ways, pick up their game."

Oregon will find out its NCAA Tournament seeding fate on Sunday. Any team in its region with adequate big men and a strong bench will present a challenge for the Ducks minus Boucher. More pressure will put upon inconsistent guards Tyler Dorsey, Dylan Ennis and Payton Pritchard to perform in the tournament. Guard Casey Benson also must deliver more than the zero points off the bench he put forth Saturday. The Ducks' starting five won't carry the Ducks beyond maybe the Sweet 16. 

Each player be motivated by what happened on Saturday. 

"We're going to remember this feeling," Dorsey said. "We're going to bounce back, let it in our rear view mirror and get ready...And our goal is still intact, so we've got to get ready."

Arizona coach Sean Miller said he expected Altman to have his team ready to play in the tournament minus Boucher. 

"I wish he'd be able to play for them in the tournament, because I still believe that they can make a run to Phoenix (site of the Final Four)," he said. "But certainly they lost a key player."

A loss likely put reaching Phoenix out of Oregon's reach. 

Oregon forward Chris Boucher injures knee, done for season

Oregon forward Chris Boucher injures knee, done for season

Update: Oregon sent out a press release at 7 p.m. announcing Chris Boucher's injury.

LAS VEGAS - The Oregon Ducks, who will face Arizona in tonight's Pac-12 Tournament championship game, received some devastating news today.

Forward Chris Boucher is done for the season due to a knee injury he suffered during Friday night's 73-65 semifinals win over California at T-Mobile Arena, Oregon has confirmed.

The news of Boucher's injury was first reported by 247/Sports. 

Boucher posted the following on Instagram. 

🙏🏽I'll be back... God won't let me hang🙏🏽 #goducks #godbless #gnsl

A post shared by Chris Boucher (@slimmduck) on

Oregon issued a press release at 7 p.m. that stated: "An MRI on Saturday confirmed that Boucher sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which will require surgery at a later date. The injury occurred late in the first half when Boucher was battling for a rebound and fell awkwardly to the floor."

Boucher ended the night with 10 points and four rebounds.  

Boucher being unavailable will certainly hurt Oregon's chances of not only winning tonight but of reaching the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week.  He is the team's best player off the bench and quite frankly would be a starter if not for coach Dana Altman's decision to go with a three-guard lineup. Boucher leads the Pac-12 with 2.5 blocked shots per game, and he averages 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. 

The loss of Boucher will likely force Oregon to lean more on transfer, junior Kavell Bigby-Williams. He has played nine minutes in this tournament delivering four points and one rebound. 

He did deliver five points and five rebounds in 19 minutes of action, his Pac-12 high, during a 69-52 win over Stanford at home on Jan. 21. 

Ducks find value in grinding out 73-65 win over Cal in Pac-12 Tournament

Ducks find value in grinding out 73-65 win over Cal in Pac-12 Tournament

Update: Arizona won 86-75 over UCLA to advance to the championship game against Oregon. 

LAS VEGAS - The No. 5 Oregon Ducks left T-Mobile Arena Friday night recognizing that their overall performance during a 73-65 win over California in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament won't cut it moving forward this postseason.

Coach Dana Altman said his team at times appeared to be "stuck in mud."  Other than sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey and senior forward Chris Boucher, nobody was hitting shots, least of all junior forward Dillon Brooks, who made just 3 of 12 from the field. 

"Offensively, the whole team was out of rhythm," Altman said.

On the other hand, No. 1-seeded Oregon also left the arena feeling good that the team found a way to win in other areas. Defensively, the Ducks (29-4) got stops when they needed them, especially late when Cal was in position to steal the game. They crashed the boards well enough to limit the Golden Bears' possessions. Oregon also managed to find ways to get the ball into the basket late, allowing the team to always remain a basket or two ahead of No. 5-seeded Cal (20-12). In the end, Altman believes that the silver lining to be found in his team's erratic performance is that they made plays late when they were needed them most.   

"Your offense isn't going to flow well in every game," Altman said. "We've learned that in past games. So when you have to depend on your defense, you have to depend on your rebounding, you've got to go through a close game, and guys have to step up and make plays. And guys have to step up and make stops and get rebounds. That pressure of going through it and accomplishing something, I think that does help you."

Oregon advances to the conference championship game for the third consecutive season and fourth time in five years. UO has won the Pac-12 tournament twice during that stretch, including last season. The Ducks' opponent at 8 p.m., Saturday will either No. 7 Arizona after it defeated UCLA, 86-75 in the final game of the evening. 

The Wildcats could wax Oregon if it plays like it did tonight. Heck, if Brooks plays like he did the Ducks could be DOA come Saturday. 

Altman said Brooks, who finished 3 of 12 from the field for 10 points, began the game by taking too many quick shots, and too many bad shots. He also got into foul trouble and had to exit the game early in the second half.

Brooks certainly didn't disagree that he played poorly, stating that he maybe tried to hard to get things going early in the game. 

"I had an off-day," he said. "Shots weren't falling. I was fouling a lot. Cheap fouls."

Oregon players not named Dorsey combined to make just 15 of 43 shot attempts (34.9 percent). Dorsey, on the other hand, seems to love Las Vegas. He had a great tournament last year, something his roommate, junior forward Jordan Bell reminded him of.

"I told him I need that same Tyler out there this year," Bell said. 

Dorsey delivered, making 9 of 13 shots for a 23 points. He scored 21 in Thursday afternoon's second-round win over Arizona State. 

Dorsey said he simply waited for opportunities to present themselves and took advantage.

"My teammates were finding me in great positions," Dorsey said.

Said Altman: "Fortunately, Tyler offensively really did a good job. And I felt defensively he really picked it up down the stretch."

Boucher made 4 of 7 shots off the bench for 10 points.

Oregon still has an outside shot of receiving a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if the Ducks can win Saturday night. Nerves shouldn't be an issue. These Ducks have all tasted great success over the past few years, especially her in Las Vegas.

"That experience, I hope, pays dividends...," Altman said. "We are experienced but as you can tell from today, I don't think we used that experience like we should of. So, it's a learning experience with every game. I hope we learned something today."

The lessons get tougher from here on out. 

Dillon Brooks' game-winner caps Oregon comeback in 68-65 win at Cal

Dillon Brooks' game-winner caps Oregon comeback in 68-65 win at Cal

No. 6 Oregon 68, California 65

How Oregon won: Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks made a three-point basket from straight away with two tenths of a second remaining to give the Ducks a 68-65 win Wednesday night against California at Haas Pavillion in Berkeley, Calif.

The winning shot, which was very similar to the one Brooks made on Dec. 29 during an 89-87 win at home over UCLA, ended a furious late run by UO to steal a game the Ducks trailed most of the night. 

The Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) trailed 20-7 with seven minutes remaining in the first half after making just 2 out of their first 15 shot attempts, including missing all seven three point attempts within the first 13 minutes.

Oregon trailed 30-16 at halftime after scoring a season-low for a half, and trailed 37-21 with 16:51 remaining in the game. 

The Ducks got to within 39-30 with 13:43 remaining but then fell behind 47-34 with 10:06 remaining in the game thanks to California continuing to apply defensive pressure and make timely shots to stem any UO attempts at making a run. 

Oregon finally began to truly chip away at its deficit minutes later before getting to within striking distance late as Cal (18-8, 9-5) began to crumble by committing critical late turnovers.  

What it means: The Ducks put pressure on Arizona (25-3, 14-1) to continue winning. The Wildcats host USC Thursday night. Arizona leads Oregon by one game in the Pac-12 standings, but the Ducks hold the head-to-head tie breaker. 

Key sequence: Oregon trailed 59-52 before senior guard Dylan Ennis and freshman guard Payton Pritchard hit back-to-back three-pointers to make the score 59-58 with 3:07 remaining.

A score inside by senior forward Chris Boucher off of an assist from Pritchard gave the Ducks a 62-61 lead with two minutes remaining.

Cal's Grant Mullins gave his team a brief one-point lead before Brooks hit a jumper to make it 64-63, UO with 58 seconds remaining.

UO guard Tyler Dorsey's two free throws gave the Ducks a 65-63 lead, but Cal answered with a jumper from Ivan Rabb that tied the game at 65 with seven seconds remaining.

That led to the Brooks' heroics. 

High flying Ducks: Brooks had a game-high 22 points and Boucher scored 18 to go along with six rebounds off the bench. 

Oregon shot 46.3 percent from the field and made seven of its final 14 three-point attempts to get back into the game and win it. 

The Ducks committed just seven turnovers. 

Fowl play: Dorsey made just one of 8 shot attempts to finish with five points. Other than Boucher, the UO bench contributed zero scoring. 

Up next: Oregon continues its road trip Saturday at Stanford (13-13, 5-9) with a 3 p.m. tipoff.  

No. 6 Oregon can't allow momentum to wane on the road

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USA Today

No. 6 Oregon can't allow momentum to wane on the road

No. 7 Oregon has hit its stride. The defense has been dominant and the offense has been buzzing. 

About the only negative that can be said about the Ducks this season is that they have lost four games away from Matthew Knight Arena.

"We need to figure out how to stay focused on the road and not have letdowns," senior forward Chris Boucher told reporters on Tuesday. 

Yes, but lamenting that is nitpicking of the highest order. 

Oregon (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) plays at California (18-8, 9-5) tonight in the final real "test" of the regular season. It's a "test" only because the game will be played away from Matthew Knight Arena where the Ducks enjoy a nation-leading, 41-game home winning streak. The Ducks squished Cal at home by the score of 86-43 on Jan. 19.  None of Oregon's final games of the season should be much trouble. Not Cal, and certainly not games at Stanford (13-13, 5-9) and Oregon State (5-23, 1-14). 

But if we were to search for a game that could hold some intrigue it would be tonight's 6 p.m. contest. 

"Cal is fighting for an NCAA berth and they'll give us everything," UO coach Dana Altman told reporters.

For that reason, UO should at least be leery. Still, if the Ducks are expecting to make a run at a national title they should be able to handle Cal in any arena. Yes, Cal does have size.

"Cal killed us with (19) offensive rebounds last time," Altman said.

Oregon had just 18 defensive rebounds. 

Nevertheless, Oregon won that game in blowout fashion. That said, Cal is a different team at home where its only two losses this season have come against No. 18 Virginia and No. 4 Arizona (25-3, 14-1). 

Let's get back to that home-away thing. Oregon's home vs. road play is slightly skewed. The Ducks are undefeated at home, which makes the four road losses appear glaring. If Oregon had two home losses and two road losses, nobody would care. So let's examine the team's four losses away from MKA. 

  1. Oregon lost at No. 9 Baylor without Dillon Brooks. Excusable. 
  2. The Ducks lost to Georgetown at the Maui Invitational the day Brooks returned to action. Hey, any loss in Hawaii is understandable. 
  3. The loss at Colorado (16-12, 6-9) could be viewed as just one of those nights, but that was at least a questionable loss. 
  4. Losing 82-79 at No. 5 UCLA (24-3, 11-3) two weeks ago was more than respectable. 

So, that's one questionable loss out of four. Not bad. For the Ducks to avoid a fifth loss away from MKA they must find the defensive mojo they seem to enjoy at home. 

"We have had some great spurts on the road with our defense, but we haven't done it for long enough periods of time," Altman said. 

Junior guard Casey Benson told reporters that the defensive energy must be produced from within because the home fans won't be able to give the team a boost. 

"We just have to pick each other up and bring our own energy," Benson said. 

From here on out the Ducks won't be able to rely on the home crowd to help them. So tonight is a good of a night as any for the Ducks to show that they don't need to play at home to be consistently dominant.