Cook ties career high with 26, Oregon tops UC Irvine 78-63
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Elgin Cook flashed an early sign to Oregon coach Dana Altman that he had big plans for Tuesday night.
Cook's steal, one of nine by the Ducks in the first half, and power dunk showed the senior was all business as he matched his career high with 26 points and Oregon stayed perfect at home with a 78-63 victory over UC Irvine.
''We haven't seen Elgin do that this year, and with his athleticism he ought to be getting one of those a game,'' Altman said. ''Elgin's activity really helped us. He played a heckuva game.''
Chris Boucher had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Ducks (8-2), now 7-0 at home.
Dillon Brooks, who played all 40 minutes for the second straight game, added 16 points, and Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey each had 12.
Mamadou Ndiaye and Luke Nelson led the Anteaters (7-4) with 15 points each.
Cook scored Oregon's first seven points of the second half to fuel an 18-4 run that gave the Ducks their largest lead at 62-40.
''That was a big, big stretch for us,'' Altman said.
An 8-0 run by the Anteaters gave them some life with 12 minutes to play, but Boucher ended any hope for a comeback with back-to-back dunks against the 7-foot-6 Ndiaye.
''I told our team I was a little disappointed with the level of play in the second half,'' UC Irvine coach Russell Turner said. ''We got relaxed and complacent a little bit.
''In the second half, we didn't have the same level of energy. If we're not going to play all out, then we're not going to be able to beat good teams. That was exposed tonight.''
Oregon finished with 28 points off 22 turnovers by the UC Irvine. Casey Benson had nine of the Ducks' 19 assists.
An opening dunk by the Ndiaye gave the Anteaters their only lead of the game.
Oregon neutralized UC Irvine's height advantage in the first half with an aggressive trapping press and a frequent double team on Ndiaye that forced 13 turnovers, including eight steals, that the Ducks turned into 19 points to open a 32-16 lead.
UC Irvine finally found an offensive spark with a 10-0 run to pull within six but could get no closer. Oregon took a 44-36 lead into the half on Cook's 13 points.
''I didn't feel like our focus coming into this game was what it needed to be for an NCAA tournament-type game, which is what I thought that it would be,'' Turner said. ''We just weren't ready for it.''
UC Irvine: Alex Young, who starred at Phoenix High School three hours south of Eugene, is the 25th Anteater to reach 1,000 career points. He now has 1,041 and needs 12 assists to become UC Irvine's all-time leader in that category.
Oregon: Chris Boucher, who just missed a triple-double when he had 17 points, nine rebounds and a school-record nine blocks against Arkansas State last month, ranks third nationally with 3.9 blocks per game. The 6-foot-10 senior had four more against UC Irvine, including one on the Ndiaye in the second half.
Oregon is now 3-1 against teams that made the NCAA tournament last year. The Anteaters are coming off their first tournament appearance in school history.
With six players carrying the load through Oregon's first eight games, the return of the 6-foot-9 Bell the last two games has helped Altman do more than extend his rotation. Bell's six field goals included three midrange jumpers, a new edition to his repertoire after six months recovering from foot surgery with little to do but lift weights and shoot. ''He took some nice shots,'' Altman said. ''They gave him those looks in the zone, and he squared up and made them.'' Bell played 25 minutes against the Anteaters.
UC Irvine hosts Chapman on Friday.
Oregon hosts Long Beach State on Friday.
- Casey Benson
- Chris Boucher
- Dillon Brooks
- Elgin Cook
- Jordan Bell
- Mamadou Ndiaye
- Oregon Ducks
- Tyler Dorsey
- UC Irvine Anteaters