For the only player in school history to make three straight NCAA tournaments, Elgin Cook was quick and to the point in his farewell to fans. No different from his usual post game podium talk, Cook thanked the fans, embraced his teammates and kept his words to a minimum.
Can’t blame him though, as his game did all of the talking.
In his final home game, Cook tied his season-high of 26 points and added seven rebounds against Washington, en route to a 86-73 win. He served as the catalyst Sunday night, helping No. 13 Oregon men’s basketball (23-6, 12-4 Pac-12) finish the season a perfect 19-0 at home in front a sold out Matthew Knight Arena crowd.
He joined Dwayne Benjamin (another junior college transfer), Max Heller and Dylan Ennis as the individuals celebrating their Senior Night.
“It’s amazing,” Cook said. “We had a great run here. It wouldn’t be possible without my teammates, without the fans, and we just want to finish out strong.”
Dwayne Benjamin added that it was “Better than anything I could imagine.”
“The atmosphere was great and it was good to share that moment with my teammates,” Benjamin, another junior college transfer, said about his last home game.
It’s been a formidable senior campaign for Cook. Averaging 13.8 points and 4.5 rebounds, the junior college transfer has certainly been a veteran asset for Oregon – recording six games of 20 points or more – but it hasn’t been as consistent as he would have liked.
Still, Dana Altman and his teammates couldn’t have asked for much more from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin native.
“It was crazy, it was surreal,” Cook said. “Coming from JUCO (junior college), it’s been a long road. It was just amazing.”
All season, Oregon has taken turns with who has the hot hand. Most nights it’s been Dillon Brooks, who leads the team in points per game (17.2) and minutes (32.9). Others, it’s been Chris Boucher or Tyler Dorsey.
Sunday night, it was fittingly Cook, a player that has been one of the faces of this program for the past three years.
“I’m really happy for him,” Altman said. “He’s played his tails off for us. He’s a hard nose guy. I feel very fortunate to (have had) the opportunity to work with him for three years.”
Oregon has just one final road trip remaining before the regular season comes to a close. It will be against USC (19-10, 8-8) and UCLA (15-14, 6-10).
Soon enough, it will know if the program can follow through with its first regular season conference title since 2002. As it stands, Oregon has sole possession of the top spot.
Like always, Cook and his teammates will take it one game at a time as tournament season inches closer.
“Last time we were on the road, we got drilled, so we just want to take our home mentality and go on the road with it,” Cook said.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim