Notebook | This year's tournament a lot better for Brooks
This time, Aaron Brooks left Staples Center with a smile. "I haven't had a good experience here the last couple of years," he said after...
Seattle Times staff reporter
This time, Aaron Brooks left Staples Center with a smile.
"I haven't had a good experience here the last couple of years," he said after Oregon beat Arizona 69-50 in a quarterfinal game at the Pac-10 men's basketball tournament Thursday. "I'm looking forward to having a good time."
That was an obvious reference to last year's tournament, when the Franklin High School graduate threw a forearm at the face of Washington's Ryan Appleby 10 minutes into a quarterfinal game. He was ejected, then suspended for Oregon's semifinal loss.
Thursday, that seemed a million miles away as Brooks scored 16 in the first 13 minutes as the Ducks broke out to a big lead. He also turned in two highlight-reel blocks, once stuffing Arizona's 6-foot-10 Ivan Radenovic, who is 10 inches taller than Brooks, on a drive to the hoop.
"I don't think about it," Brooks said. "If you look at who it is, you might not jump, so I just went up there and jumped and got it."
Brooks didn't score again after his early outburst, but his 16 points were enough to allow him to pass Luke Ridnour for 10th in Oregon career scoring.
Low riding high
Thursday's game at glancePlayer of the game: Washington State sophomore guard Taylor Rochestie, a native of nearby Santa Barbara, made it a happy homecoming, scoring a game-high 20 points, including a three-pointer and a running bank shot in the final two minutes.
Turning point: The score was tied at 56 with 6:31 left before the Cougars reclaimed the lead with a 9-4 run built entirely at the free-throw line.
Next: NIT announcement on Sunday.
Washington State guard Derrick Low scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half in keeping the Cougars afloat after foul trouble limited Kyle Weaver and Aron Baynes. It was Low's second straight solid game after he had been hit by a mini-slump.
"He was really aggressive and he looked like he had life off the ball," said WSU coach Tony Bennett.
Washington center Artem Wallace hadn't scored in 20 minutes in two previous games against WSU, but had 10 Thursday night, eight in the first half.
"My first shot went in and I got a little confidence and I just kept attacking," said Wallace, who played 23 minutes with Spencer Hawes in foul trouble.
• Washington State's 25 wins are tied for the second-most in school history. WSU also won 25 in the 1916-17 season and 26 in the 1940-41 season.