Utah ousted by Oregon (again) in Pac-12 tourney

LAS VEGAS —For the fifth time in eight years, Oregon has defeated Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament. The latest addition was a 66-54 decision late Thursday in the quarterfinals at T-Mobile Arena.

History hasn’t been kind to Utah when it comes to facing Oregon in the conference tourney.

The Ducks defeated the Utes 88-57 in the 2016 championship game. They knocked them out in the quarterfinals last year (68-66) and in the semifinals in both 2013 (64-45) and 2015 (67-64).

After securing the No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament, Utah senior Parker Van Dyke acknowledged there was plenty of reason for optimism considering the parity within the Pac-12.

“Even though this is one of the youngest teams I’ve been on and probably not even the best record-wise team, this may be our best chance to win the tournament because of how close in competition everybody is.”.

In order to defeat Oregon, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak noted that the Utes needed to do a much better job taking care of the ball than they did in a 78-72 loss to the Ducks in January. They gave up 29 points on 19 turnovers that night in the Huntsman Center.

As the rematch in Las Vegas approached, Krystkowiak expressed confidence the Utes would improve in that regard.

He was right, for a while anyhow.

Utah turned the ball over only seven times and surrendered only two points off miscues in building a 24-18 halftime lead. Donnie Tillman and Jayce Johnson set the tone. Tillman had 12 points at the break, while Johnson had eight rebounds and three blocks.

The performances offset 1-for-10 shooting by the Utes from 3-point range. As the score indicated, it was a defensive battle. Oregon connected on only 28.6 percent of its shots (8 of 29) in the first half. The Ducks missed 10 of their first 11 attempts.

The Utes jumped out to a 9-3 lead and eventually held a 24-16 advantage. They held the Ducks scoreless for more than five minutes during a stretch late in the half.

After the intermission, Oregon used a 6-0 run to even the score. Utah, meanwhile, missed its first four shots. Johnson ended the drought with 16:50 left to play.

A swap of scores followed with the Utes holding a 28-26 lead. That’s when Oregon’s Payton Pritchard scored five straight points to put the Ducks in front. Their lead swelled to 45-36 over the next seven minutes.

Utah stopped the slide on a 3-pointer by Sedrick Barefield with 6:03 to go. It ushered in a 7-2 burst that cut the deficit to 47-43. A 3-pointer by Paul White, though, gave Oregon seem breathing at 50-43 with 4:48 to go.

The Ducks (20-12) maintained a lead of at least five points the rest of the way as the Utes fell to 17-14 overall.

Oregon moves on to face Arizona State in Friday’s semifinals. The second-seeded Sun Devils overpowered No. 7-seed UCLA 83-72 earlier in the evening.

In the other bracket, Washington and Colorado advanced with victories. The top-seeded Huskies defeated USC 78-75 and the fifth-seeded Buffaloes topped …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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