EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- In a game being played on the final day of a
month that was far from kind to Oregon, point guard Aaron Brooks
gave the Ducks a reason to go into the New Year optimistic.
In the final two minutes of a tight contest against in-state
rival Oregon State, Brooks made a pair of athletic and acrobatic
layups -- in-between taking a charge on defense -- leading Oregon to
a 70-64 win in the Pac-10 Conference season opener for both teams
and the 324th game in the Civil War game overall.
Brooks, who finished with a season-high 19 points and five
assists, hit a finger-roll with 1:42 to play to break a 60-60 tie.
Then the 6-foot, 165-pound junior, stood tough in the paint as
6-8, 230-pound Nick DeWitz barreled into him on a drive from the
baseline for the foul.
Back at the other end, Brooks went into a crowd and flipped the
ball off the backboard and into the basket for a 64-60 lead with
0:40 seconds left.
Maarty Leunen finished the game off for Oregon, scoring five of
his eight points in the final 27 seconds.
"We put it in Aaron's hands down the stretch," Oregon head
coach Ernie Kent said. "He was playing great and playing in
control. He did a terrific job running the team."
The win was only the third in eight December games for the Ducks
(7-4), who opened the season 4-0. The worst of those losses came in
Oregon's last game, at home against Portland State on Tuesday.
"Extremely embarrassed," said Brooks of his feelings coming
out of that 54-52 loss to the Vikings. "We were questioning our
Not anymore: Though the win didn't cure all that ails the
struggling Ducks, it did give them a measured sense of relief.
"We knew we definitely needed to step up, start playing and win
games," Leunen said. "We still have a lot of areas to work on,
but we've shown some improvement. We're excited now."
It was Oregon State's 13th straight conference road loss. The
Beavers haven't won a Pac-10 opener on the road since the 1992-93
Oregon struggled to find its shot early in the game, missing on
all but one of its first 11 field goals and led by as much as 16-11
after a 3-pointer by Oregon State's Angleo Tsagarakis at the 10:28
But a jumper by Brooks moments later ignited a 9-0 run by the
Ducks, and they took an 18-16 lead on a 3-pointer by Brooks 8:14
After the Beavers went back up 25-21, reserve forward Ivan
Johnson scored seven of Oregon's final nine points of the half to
give the Ducks a 30-29 lead at the break. Johnson finished the game
13 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.
The Ducks opened the second half on a 9-0 run to go up 39-29 by
the 17:57 mark.
The Beavers battled back and after twice getting to within two
points, finally tied the game 60-60 on a free throw by Jones with
2:13 to play, capping a 7-1 for Oregon State.
The Beavers did narrowly outshoot the Ducks 49 percent to 48
percent, and outrebound them 31-30, they struggled at the
free-throw line, making only 11-of-21 attempts.
"We played well enough to win," Oregon State coach Jay John
said. "I though our guys played well. We just never quite got