Brooks leads Oregon to 77-59 win over Utah
''We were really aggressive right from the start,'' Dillon Brooks said. ''We just wanted to hit them first.''
Brooks had 21 points and eight rebounds and the Ducks had the Utes reeling from the opening tip on their way to a 77-59 victory.
''Wow, that was a fun game. To play that well on the road was huge for us. We knew how much energy they would have in their first conference home game and we just had to exceed that and be the aggressor,'' said Casey Benson, who scored a career-high 15 points.
The Ducks (14-3, 3-1 Pac 12) never trailed in notching their third straight conference win after dropping their league opener to Oregon State.
''That was as good a game as we have played, the whole game,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman. ''You hate to get down early on the road and we've had a problem with that this year . not this time.''
Brandon Taylor led Utah (12-5, 1-3) with 12 points as the Ducks neutralized the Utes' interior offense. Sophomore center Jakob Poeltl, who missed a couple of practice days this week with a sprained ankle, made just one field goal and had seven points in Utah's first home loss of the season.
''You may not always have your `A' game, but if you come in with your `D' game you are going to get your butt kicked,'' Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
The Ducks shot 55 percent for the game while the Utes connected on just 34 percent of their shots, even though many came from close range.
''We made their bigs guard us and we spread the court so we were able to exploit the middle. Plus, we have great shooters so they had to stay out on them and gave us room to move,'' Brooks said.
The Utes made their first four shots of the second half to trim the Ducks lead to six points. Jordan Loveridge's 3-pointer made it 50-44 with 17:20 left in the game.
From there, the Ducks held Utah scoreless for almost eight minutes. The Utes missed 13 straight field goals, as Oregon extended its lead into double digits and never led by less than 12 the rest of the way.
''I thought we needed to be a lot better offensively. When you are so bad that way, especially against a team that is fast and athletic, it can take all of the spirit out of you,'' Krystkowiak said.
Oregon's athletic defenders and quick pace rattled the Utes early. The Ducks led by as many as 15 points and held the Utes to 34 percent shooting in the first half. Oregon led 46-34 at the break.
''We had good ball pressure and we had 19 deflections in the first half so we just didn't let them throw it where they wanted in the post,'' Altman said.
Oregon: The Ducks have won five straight games against the Utes, including a 67-64 victory in last year's Pac-12 Tournament. . Oregon is 12-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points. . Chris Boucher, who ranked third nationally in blocked shots, swatted six Ute attempts.
Utah: The Utes have now scored fewer than 60 points in three straight games. . Utah had more offensive rebounds (17) than defensive boards (14), mainly due to missing so many shots around the basket. . The Utes, who usually hold a big advantage in the lane, were outscored 36-18 in the paint.
BIG GUYS DON'T SCARE US
The Oregon players heard a lot about Poeltl and Utah's height but they didn't worry. ''We weren't scared about their length,'' Brooks said. ''They have a great big man and we really keyed on him. But we have shooters and athletic players and that minimized their length . and it was easy to get to the rim.''
A SHOOTING NIGHT TO FORGET
Even while the Utes were mired in their worst shooting night of the season, a Utah student drained a half-court shot for a $5,000 prize and garnered the biggest cheer of the night. The Utes made just 19 of 56 field goal attempts and weren't much better from the line, going 14 of 25.
Oregon plays at Colorado on Sunday.
Utah hosts Oregon State on Sunday.