Cook leads No. 16 Oregon past Colorado 76-56
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Oregon is off to its best start in conference play in 14 seasons, but the toughest person to sell on the No. 16 Ducks being the Pac-12's best team might be their own coach.
''If we had some better depth and we knew how to handle some possessions, I'd give them a little more credit,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman said, ''but with the balance in our league, it's hard to get full of yourself.''
The Ducks were anything but that Thursday night as Elgin Cook scored 18 points and Chris Boucher had 12 rebounds and blocked six shots to lead them to a 76-56 win over Colorado.
Tyler Dorsey added 13 points and Dwayne Benjamin had 11 for the Ducks (19-4, 8-2 Pac-12), who won their their fifth straight and 21st consecutive home game for the second-longest streak in school history.
Josh Scott led the Buffaloes (17-6, 6-4) with 17 points, and George King had 16 and eight rebounds. Colorado had a 42-38 advantage on the boards.
Oregon had given up a season-high 91 points in a four-point road loss to Colorado last month. This time the Buffaloes didn't hit double digits as a team until 12 1/2 minutes had been played.
Benjamin said the difference for the Ducks this time wasn't a matter of talent.
''It's all effort,'' he said. ''You've just got to work harder than the next man. We try to play like a team on defense, so it's not really just one man. I think that's the biggest deal with us.''
Boucher, the nation's leading shot blocker at 3.3 per game, played a huge role in that regard before exiting late the game with an injury to his lower left leg. It was his 11th game that he had at least four blocks.
''I think he's going to be all right,'' Altman said. ''It's just a little bit of a tweak hopefully. He's become such an important part of our team, and even though his offense was a little bit off (with seven points), he just changed the game.''
Oregon led by as many as 23 points late in the game and finished with a 21-4 edge in points off turnovers, with Colorado committing 14.
''The kinds of turnovers we had, they were just lazy passing, bad footwork, just ridiculous turnovers,'' Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. ''This time of the year, I know we're not going to have zero. You cut those numbers in half, and you're right in the ballgame.''
The Ducks also held the Buffaloes, the conference leaders in 3-point accuracy at 41.2 percent, to 8 of 24 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
Colorado got within 10 at 50-40 midway through the second half, but Oregon answered with a 7-0 run and pulled away.
''(The Buffaloes) are athletic and they're big, so we knew a run was coming at some time.'' Altman said. ''They got it down to 10, but I thought we responded really well. Elgin hit a couple tough shots that helped push the lead back out.''
The Ducks spotted Colorado the game's first basket and never trailed again after Boucher's 3-pointer. Oregon went on a 13-0 run to go up 24-7 with 7:45 left in the half, which ended with the Ducks up 40-21 behind Cook's 10 points.
Oregon converted eight Buffalo turnovers into 11 points during a chippy first half that included a pair of double technicals.
''We were flying around, hands up and swatting at a lot of balls,'' Benjamin said, ''and it probably got them a little frustrated. We just tried to play defense and stop them from trying to put the ball in the hole.''
Altman was no fan of two of his players, Dorsey and Dillon Brooks, picking up technical fouls among four whistled in the first half, though none resulted in free throws. For Brooks, it was his second of the season. ''I was really disappointed,'' Altman said. ''We're not going to have that. . That's not who we are. We don't get technicals. I don't get them, and our team shouldn't get them, and we're not going to have that.''
NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT
Colorado has a quick turnaround with a game Saturday night at Oregon State after falling two games behind the Ducks in the Pac-12 standings at 6-4. CU coach Tad Boyle said the Buffaloes need to get their offense squared away after coming within two points of their season low. ''We've got to bounce back, we've got to be resilient,'' Boyle said. ''I love this team. This is a great group of guys to coach, and we were not good enough tonight on a big stage, the biggest game of the year, we laid an egg. ''
Colorado: The Buffaloes are 6-4 against Oregon since joining the Pac-12 four years ago. . Colorado's one free-throw attempt, which it missed, and 21 points in the first half tied season lows. . The Buffs came in as the Pac-12 leader in free-throw accuracy at 73.9 percent but were just 6 of 14 (42.9 percent) in the loss.
Oregon: Brooks has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award on Wednesday. . Senior Elgin Cook became the 34th Duck player to surpass 1,000 career points. He now has 1,011. . Sophomore Jordan Bell broke the school record for career blocked shots with three in his 50th game for 117, topping Blair Rasmussen's record of 116 in 114 games.
Colorado plays at Oregon State on Saturday.
No. 16 Oregon hosts Utah on Sunday.