Pac-12 title remains in play for No. 6 Oregon at Stanford

No. 6 Oregon still has a chance to capture its second straight regular-season Pac-12 title as it heads into Saturday afternoon’s game at Stanford, and the Ducks have Dillon Brooks to thank for that.

Brooks has been hot lately, averaging 21.4 points while making 24 of 43 3-pointers (55.8 percent) over the past seven games. The biggest of those threes came with 0.2 of a second remaining at California on Thursday and gave the Ducks a 68-65 victory when defeat had seemed all but certain just a few minutes earlier.

“Especially on the road, it feels so good,” Brooks said of his game-winning shot. “You look at every single crowd member and see them looking down. They thought they had the game and we stole it from them.”

That shot was similar to the 3-pointer Brooks made with 0.8 of a second left to beat UCLA by two points back on Dec. 28.

The big shot against Cal improved Oregon’s overall record to 25-4, and the Ducks are 14-2 in conference play for the first time since the 1939 Ducks finished 14-2 in the Pacific Coast Conference and went on to win the national title.

All the 14-2 record gets Oregon at this point is second place, a game behind Arizona, with two games left. Oregon will be finished with its 1 p.m. game against Stanford (14-13, 6-9) by the time UCLA takes the court against Arizona on Saturday evening, and the Ducks will be rooting for the Bruins to pull off the road win.

The Ducks feel lucky to be within a game after digging themselves a hole against Cal.

“We were fortunate,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “The first half we were just stuck in the mud, we couldn’t get any ball movement. I was really disappointed at halftime.”

The Ducks scored a season-low 16 points in the first half. They trailed by 16 points with less than 17 minutes left in the game and were behind by 10 with 4:15 to go.

Yet they pulled it out by scoring on each of their final eight possessions, scoring 12 of their final 19 points on 3-pointers.

There was never any doubt who would take the final shot.

“It’s a lot of pressure, but I don’t feel that at all,” Brooks said. “I work on those shots every day before practice, so I felt confident.”

“He just made a play; that’s all there is to it,” Altman said.

The Ducks would rather not have the game come down to a final shot against Stanford, which has won two straight, including Thursday’s 79-66 victory over Oregon State.

Oregon beat Stanford 69-52 on Jan. 21 in Eugene, Ore., but the Cardinal defeated the Ducks at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion 76-72 last season when the Ducks were ranked No. 11 and went on to land a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“Oregon is really good, we need to be hungry, put together a heck of a game plan, and play exceptionally well,” first-year Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. “It will be a heck of a challenge, but our guys are really up for challenges right now.”

It will be Senior Day for Stanford’s final home game of the season, and Marcus Allen is one of those Cardinal seniors.

“In order to beat Oregon, we have to stick to our standards and follow the game plan,” said Allen, who scored 17 points against Oregon State. “We have got to buckle down on defense and be sharp on offense because Oregon is a great team.

“In the last month, we are trending in the right direction on both ends of the floor. Guys are more confident, guys are getting good looks, and we are active on defense. We are going in the right direction and I hope that continues.”

Stanford shot 57.1 percent from the floor against Oregon State and will need another strong offensive performance against Oregon, which has five players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Brooks’ 15.7 points per game.

“It is going to take a lot to beat Oregon,” said Stanford forward Reid Travis, who leads the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game and collected 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting against the Beavers. “They have many players that can do a lot of things, but I have a lot of confidence in us, too.”