Tyler Dorsey ties career-high in points in Civil War as Oregon gets back on track
In a highly anticipated Civil War matchup, the No. 16 ranked Oregon men’s basketball team (21-6, 10-4 Pac-12) put its recent two-game skid to bed and got back to playing its up-tempo, transition-flourishing, defense-driven game.
Flipping the script on its conference opener, Oregon cruised to a 91-81 win over Pac-12 rival Oregon State (15-10, 6-8), finishing with an advantage in every major statistical category.
This lopsided result was heavily influenced by the stellar play of freshman Tyler Dorsey who tied his career-high of 25 points (set against Western Oregon) on 9-of-16 shooting in front of a sold-out Matthew Knight Arena crowd. It was his fourth 20-point game of the season as Oregon extended its school-best home winning streak to 23.
Having struggled recently, the team felt like it was important for Dorsey to have this slump-snapping type of performance.
“I think Tyler needed that game,” senior Chris Boucher, who finished with 14 points and three blocks, said. “Today, he was fired up. When he plays like that, it really helps the team.”
This season, sophomore Dillon Brooks has been the alpha dog for highly touted Oregon — leading the team in points (17.2 per game) and minutes (33.1 per game). He finished with 17 points in 29 minutes Saturday night.
But during the game, it wasn’t about him. It was about his freshman co-star who notched a late season breakout performance in an all-important rivalry game. Dorsey outplayed Oregon State All-American guard Gary Payton II, who finished with just 11 points, in the process.
“Tyler is very confident,” senior Elgin Cook, who finished with 16 points, said. “He played well. I’m glad he had this type of game too, and it helps our team a lot.”
For a game this late in the season, with a lot riding on the line, it’s usually the seniors that rise to the occasion. But Dorsey went against that sentiment on Feb. 20. He exploited the Beavers’ zone with strong finishes at the rim and knockdown threes.
“They were in that zone most of the time and he’s our best shooter, so I thought he made some good plays,” head coach Dana Altman said. “I really liked how he got to the basket.”
It was a timely win for Oregon. With four games remaining – two at home – Oregon was able to keep hopes alive for winning its first Pac-12 regular season title since 2002.
As it stands, it will likely be a two-team race to the finish with Arizona, who’s tied with the Ducks atop the Pac-12.
But if players like Dorsey can hit their stride in the coming month, it will be hard to keep this team from achieving its ultimate goal of making a deep post-season run in March.
“Tyler is a pretty confident young man,” Altman said. “He’s scored a lot of points in his career. You got a scorer like that, they just know it’s a matter of time. I think Tyler felt that way [season].”
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim
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