IT WAS early Wednesday afternoon back home in Australia when Patty Mills and his St. Mary's College teammates finished off No.12 Oregon 99-87 Tuesday night in Moraga.

Mills wasn't quite sure what he'd say when he called his parents, Benny and Yvonne, to share the details of his modest little performance: a school freshman-record 37 points, five assists, two steals and just one turnover that wasn't really his fault in 37 jaw-dropping minutes.

But Gaels coach Randy Bennett knew exactly what he'd say, if given the chance. "Thanks," he said. "That's what I say every time I text them."

Bennett wasn't the only one feeling grateful Tuesday night. Mills said he was looking forward to his first American Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

"I'm very thankful for everyone tonight," he said afterward. "I have a lot of turkey to eat for that."

NBA scouts who came to watch Oregon senior Malik Hairston, instead got their fill of an 18-year-old who may earn a spot on next summer's Australian Olympic team.

"He plays like a veteran," one said. "He shoots it very easy off the dribble, makes really good decisions and sees the floor well. He toyed with a very skilled Oregon backcourt."

Oregon coach Ernie Kent, in his first trip back to Moraga 10 years after taking the Gaels to the NCAA tournament, knew the game had the potential to be a trap for his club. What he didn't know was just how good Mills would be.

Mills wore out three different Oregon defenders, showing a versatile game that will be hard to defuse. Playing with calm and control, he hit four 3-pointers — three from NBA distance — used screens to free himself, made 13 of 14 free throws and set up his teammates with passes as catchable as anything Joe Montana ever delivered.

"We ran out of answers for him," said Kent, comparing Mills to NBA star Tony Parker. "If he plays that way every night, he's a pro."

That's still conjecture, but this much we know: Mills' 37 points are the most by a freshman in Bay Area Division I history. That includes Bill Cartwright, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. Everyone.

Over the past two games, Mills has 41 points, 11 assists, seven steals and just one turnover in 66 minutes.

"I'm not going to say I knew he would do this," Bennett allowed. "What we've found out, he's a really good competitor. The bigger the game, the bigger he can play. He was fantastic."

Clearly, the folks in Moraga already are falling in love with kid, who prefers being called Patty over the more formal Patrick. During a timeout with 3 minutes left, the P.A. blared "Down Under," Men at Work's unofficial Aussie anthem.

"Seriously, that's the only song that really catches my attention," Mills said. "That's just a reminder for me of where I'm from, that I'm not only representing St. Mary's but my country back home.

"Playing for your country, that's obviously one big thing. But to be able to experience the college side of things, it's a different thing altogether. I definitely feel I'm at home here."

A few other tidbits from the Gaels' win:

-St. Mary's 99 points are the most it has scored in 177 games against a current Pac-10 member.

-In its first game against Oregon, way back on Dec. 28, 1932, St. Mary's totaled just 15 points. Or two points fewer than Mills had by halftime Tuesday.

-Discounting wins over Cal and Stanford, the Gaels were just 7-37 all-time against the rest of the Pac-10, and hadn't beaten one of those schools since a 62-59 win over John Wooden's UCLA squad on Dec.5, 1958.

HOLIDAY BEARS: Cal coach Ben Braun conspired with chef Guy Fieri of the Food Network to spring an early Thanksgiving surprise on his wife, Jessica Braun.

Jessica had responded to a Food Network offer to provide Thanksgiving dinner advice, and thought she getting a phone call from one of the chefs back in September. Instead, Fieri showed up at the couple's home in Berkeley personally to help Jessica create a menu of spicy turkey tenders with bleu cheese penne pasta, balsamic grilled vegetables and garlic rosemary mashed potatoes.

Using a basketball grease board, Braun diagrammed a route for Fieri to sneak in a side door to the kitchen, and the entire episode was part of a Thanksgiving special. 

After Fieri and Jessica finished cooking, Braun's team dropped by to enjoy dinner. "It was really cool," Cal sophomore Ryan Anderson said. "My family loves that channel. The food was really good."

-Cal's postgame radio show, "March2March," is held after each game at Looney's in Berkeley and is aired on 1550 AM. Eddy Kleinhans and Matt Foley host the program, interviewing guests and taking calls from fans at 888-TALK-ISP.

-Ex-Cal coach Todd Bozeman, in his second season at Morgan State, has those Bears off to a 3-1 start after a win over American U. And Marquise Kately, also formerly of Cal, is averaging 11.3 points.

THE ONE TO SEE: NorCal Tip-Off Classic, Saturday at Newark Memorial High, 10:30 a.m. If you've had enough turkey leftovers by Saturday, check out tomorrow's college talent at this all-day event featuring as many as 30 Division I signees and prospects. The seven-game schedule includes five East Bay high schools and wraps up with a 7:45 p.m. matchup of Bishop O'Dowd vs. San Jose-Mitty, led by UCLA signee Drew Gordon, the Bay Area's top prep player. Tickets are $10 (adults), $7 (students) and $2 (5 and under) and are available at the door.

LAST-SECOND SHOT: "Our guys have been through so much — our seniors have endured hurricanes, three coaching changes. To come in here and give them a win like this, to me that's everything special." — Former Cal aide Joe Pasternack, after his New Orleans team upset No.22 North Carolina State 65-63 Sunday in his second game as head coach.

Jeff Faraudo can be reached at jeffscribe@aol.com.