The Ducks are starting to get back into mid season form where they won 9 in a row including a big win on the road against Championship Game opponent Ucla. We'll get to that later, right now let's take a look at how Oregon accomplished the first lop-sided victory of the Pac 12 tourney.
Tonight's game was won on the defensive end of the floor and that was apparent from the start. "We tried to set the tone from the start with our defense, not give them any easy buckets because that will get their energy going on the defensive end for them," said Loyd about the way the Ducks came out.
Utah looked like a team playing their third game in three nights as they committed a bunch of turnovers early and couldn't hit their open looks. Oregon pressured Utah all around the floor and forced them to work for everything they got, and unlike the last time these two teams met, Utah wasn't shooting 68%. The Utes finished the first half only 6 for 19 from the field and committed 8 turnovers.
For the Ducks it was a repeat of the previous night's game as Damyean Dotson came out aggressive and looking to score. Dotson started 4 for 6 from the field and 2 for 3 from 3. Another bright spot in the first half was the play of Waverly Austin. Austin was 3 for 3 with 6 points and 2 rebounds, but just as important was he allowed Altman to rest Woods and Kazemi after a long night last night for the pair.
The second half was dominated by the Duck guards and EJ Singler. Utah came out with a little more fire than they had in the first and tried to cut into Oregon's lead, but after an Artis jumper, and a three by Emory, EJ got a steal and tossed it ahead to Emory for a one-handed slam the pushed it back to 19. The Ducks hit a bit of a rough patch around the 10 minute mark where shots weren't falling and a Utah press caused a couple of turnovers, but Altman called a timeout, put EJ in as the power forward to help break the press and that proved to be the difference. Singler scored the next 7 points for the Ducks, the lead was back to double digits, and Utah just didn't have enough left in the tank.
The Ducks move on to play Ucla in the championship game tomorrow something Singler understands is a big thing. "We've got to show a lot of passion, play together, have fun, and good things will happen for us" Singler said after the game. Even though Ucla will be missing Jordan Adams due to a broken foot, Altman understands that their offense is balanced enough to withstand that, "I don't think you can say, 'we're going to stop this one guy.' The Wear twins can both score. Shabazz can really score."
Oregon beat Ucla 76-67 back on January 19, in what was a great college basketball game that went all the way down to the wire. With the way these Pac 12 tourney games have gone so far, don't be surprised if that happens again.