SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — After sitting out a game with a foot injury, Dillon Brooks wanted to let everyone know he was back.
When he hit his first shot, he stood and faced the sellout crowd at Utah and put his fingers to his lips.
“Every time they were loud, I just wanted the ball to quiet them down,” said Brooks, a preseason All-America. “I love it on the road. It feels great to show them and get my teammates going.”
The Ducks (19-2, 8-0 Pac-12) led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but Devon Daniel’s dunk off Lorenzo Bonam’s steal sliced the deficit to five and then Kyle Kuzma’s 3-pointer made it 70-66 with 1:40 to play.
But the Utes (14-6, 5-3) were denied multiple chances at the rim, including Chris Boucher’s block of Kuzma’s shot with 31 seconds left.
“We just stayed focus and made sure we kept getting stops,” Jordan Bell said. “That’s the one thing you can always control, so we don’t have to worry too much about the offensive end. Defense is what we rely on.”
Brooks and Payton Pritchard made free throws to clinch the game in the waning seconds.
Bell had 15 points and Dylan Ennis added 13 for the Ducks.
Kuzma scored 18 points and Daniels had 11 for Utah, which is still searching for a signature win after a soft nonconference schedule. David Collette had 10 points in limited minutes.
“If you’re playing the No. 10 team in the country, you have to play better and guys have to rise to the occasion … they’re a heck of a defensive team but you can’t miss layups,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
After trailing by two early in the second half, Oregon went on a 13-2 run, capped by Bell’s dunk, to take a 52-43 lead with 11:38 to play. The Ducks made their big move while Collette was on the bench with foul trouble.
Utah led for much of the first half until Brooks lobbed an alley-oop pass to Boucher for a dunk and then hit a 3-pointer to give the Ducks a 33-31 halftime lead.
Oregon hasn’t had a close game since nipping UCLA 89-87 in the conference opener and struggled by going the final 3:26 without a field goal but the defense carried the day again.
“Guys found a way but we had some bad turnovers the last 4 minutes and a couple of crazy shots. I had no idea what they were thinking,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
Oregon has won eight straight games against Utah.
Utah: The Utes don’t have another Top 25 team on the schedule and many felt this game was their best chance to show they are worthy of an NCAA Tournament at-large berth. Now they look to finish their remaining schedule strong and make a run in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Oregon: Brooks, who was a game-time decision, proved to be the difference in an uneven offensive performance. The Ducks, who lead the nation is blocks, had six rejections and forced 15 turnovers to show again that they stay in any game with their consistent pressure on the defensive end.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Utah outrebounded the Ducks 33-28 and shot 48 percent but couldn’t reach the 70-point mark. Only UCLA has topped 70 points against Oregon since the season opener.
Oregon continues its mountain road trip at Colorado and then hosts the Arizona schools next week.
Utah hosts Oregon State on Saturday before two games in the Bay Area next week.
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