Brooks goes out with injury in Oregon's win over Cal
EUGENE, Oregon – No confetti rained down when the Oregon Ducks tied their school record for most consecutive victories (15) with a 86-63 victory over the California Golden Bears. Instead, an air of concern was prominent. You could see it on the player’s faces, and you could hear it in the murmurs of the crowd.
At halftime, Dillon Brooks went to the locker room, and he didn’t return. Nothing official was released after the game, but head coach Dana Altman remained confident going forward with what is being called a “left leg injury.”
“He will be evaluated in the next couple of days, and we will see where we’re at,” said Altman.
Brooks, who missed the first three games of the year recovering from an off-season foot surgery, had 10 points for the Ducks (17-2, 6-0 Pac-12) in the first half before re-injuring that foot. He has averaged 13.7 points per game this season, and 15.4 points in Pac-12 play.
“Some guys are going to have to step up,” said Altman. “But we have some good players, and we will keep playing. This is why you have a team. This is why you recruit guys and why you keep plugging along and make sure you’re ready.”
Take away the injury to Brooks, and you get one of the better performances from the Ducks all year. Jordan Bell, who finished with a career-high 26 points, finished 11-for-12 from the floor, while adding six rebounds and four blocks.
“(Bell) really made some plays tonight. Two assists, only one turnover, four blocks – that’s just a great line,” said Altman. “He’s never been a scorer – we always thought that part of his game would continue to develop, and we saw that tonight. He just had one of those nights, you know. He got a couple to fall early and it really started flowing for him.”
Coming off of the bench once again, Casey Benson was on fire from beyond the arc, shooting 5-for-5 from three with two assists and zero turnovers. As a whole, the Ducks shot 58 percent (29-50) from the field, and 45 percent (11-24) from three-point range, as well as racking up 19 assists on 29 made shots.
On the defensive end, Cal’s Ivan Rabb presented a major threat. Averaging 17.3 points and 14.2 rebounds per game during conference play, the sophomore drew attention from NBA scouts and was projected to be a lottery pick had he declared for the NBA draft last season.
Bell, who was guarding Rabb for most of the night, played lock-down defense, holding the superstar to just four points, on a 2-for-1 shooting performance from the floor. The forward was held scoreless until the 11-minute mark in the second half of the game.
“He is obviously a big-time player, so we just wanted to make it really tough on him,” said Benson. “We just tried to frustrate him all night, and I think that Jordan did a good job of that.”
In the end, it was a meaningful victory that had a potentially season-changing injury. The Ducks haven’t won 15-straight games since the 1913 season, and Altman couldn’t remember a time he had ever accomplished such a feat.
But Brooks’ health is in question, and the team will be forced to once again look elsewhere for a leader on the court. This time around, however, they will go forward with some experience on how to win without No. 24 at the head of the pack.