On senior day at Matthew Knight Arena, Joseph Young was having a day he'd like to soon forget. Then, with 1:45 left in regulation and Oregon leading 59-55, Young drained a 3-pointer from the corner, putting the Ducks up by seven points while sending Matthew Knight Arena into a frenzy.
The clutch shot proved to be the dagger Oregon needed to upset the No. 9 Utah Utes, as the Ducks would go on to win 69-58 on Sunday in Eugene.
Up until that point, Young, who finished the day 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting, struggled to get anything going from the field. At the half, Young, who averages 20.0 points per game, had just two points on 1-of-8 shooting. It took over 15 minutes for Young to hit his first shot of the day.
If you need an idea just how rough of a day it had been for Joseph Young, midway through the second half, he missed a free throw. As a matter of fact, Young missing a free throw is so rare that the Oregon senior makes himself hit 100 free throws in practice each time he misses one in a game, so we know where Young will be this week.
But had it not been for the phenomenal day that freshman Dillon Brooks turned in, this game might've turned out differently. With Oregon leading 50-45 in the second half, Brooks went off for 11 straight points, including a monster dunk through the Utah defense, giving Oregon a 59-52 lead with 2:46 to play.
Brooks finished the day leading all Oregon scorers with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, including four offensive rebounds.
The Utes spent the entire second half trying to catch Oregon and cut into their lead. As the game wore on, Utah had several opportunities to either tie the game or take the lead, but couldn't manage to hit shots from beyond the arc that would've done so.
After Jordan Loveridge missed an open 3-pointer that would've tied the game, Joseph Young capitalized with a thunderous dunk at the other end, followed by a a jumper from Dwayne Benjamin to put Oregon up 43-36 in a big swing of momentum for the Ducks.
When the Ducks had built their lead up to 10 with five minutes to go, Utah answered with a 7-0 run to make it 55-52 with just over three and a half minutes to go, including a layup from Delon Wright and a clutch 3-pointer from Brandon Taylor.
Wright led all scorers with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Both teams had struggled to get going offensively. Midway through the first half, the Utes were shooting 40 percent while the Ducks were shooting just 28.6 percent, leading to a back-and-forth half after Utah had started the game on a 7-2 run.
After a slow start, both the Utes and Ducks started to find their stroke from the field. Dakarai Tucker hit a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter, but after a big offensive rebound from Jordan Bell, the Ducks answered right back with a 3-pointer of their own as Bell kicked a pass out to Ahmaad Rorie to tie the game at 19-19.
Oregon has Benson, Rorie, Abdul-Bassit, Cook, and Bell out there. Scoring could be tough...Then Rorie splashes a 3. Okay. 19-19.— Matt Prehm (@Prehmmr247) February 22, 2015
Oregon was able to widen their lead late in the first half as Utah struggled to maintain possession, committing five turnovers in the span of six minutes. During that stretch, the Utes went without a basket for nearly four minutes, allowing the Ducks to take a 32-27 lead into the half.
Ducks shooting 42.9% from field, Cook leads with 8 points. Utes shooting 47.4% and have 11 turnovers. Utes 16 rebounds, UO 12.— Steve Mims (@SteveMims_RG) February 22, 2015
Utah may have been able to take a lead at halftime if it hadn't been for committing 11 turnovers during the first half.
Early in the second half, Joseph Young continued to struggle to find his shot from the field.
Oregon holds a 39-36 lead at 15:28 mark in second half. Joseph Young is still struggling. Currently 2/10 from the floor.— Emerald Sports (@ODEsports) February 22, 2015
But despite his rough day from the field, which happens to even the best shooters from time to time, Young didn't let himself get frustrated and remained emotionally invested in the game.
Absolutely love the intensity from Joe Young (@JoeyBuckets3) in the second half. He's pumping up the crowd, and we love what we are seeing.— Oregon Pit Crew (@OregonPitCrew) February 22, 2015
Because Young didn't let himself get frustrated, he was able to eventually step up and deliver the biggest shot of the day for the Ducks, lifting them to a massive upset win. Nobody expected Oregon to win this one, and it will speak volumes towards their NCAA tournament resume.
Now, the Ducks face perhaps their toughest stretch of the year to wrap up their regular schedule. They'll hit the road for the final three games before the Pac-12 tournament begins in Las Vegas. Oregon will face California on Wednesday night before playing Stanford next Sunday afternoon. The Ducks will then wrap up their regular season schedule in Corvallis against Oregon State on March 1.
The Ducks will be looking for their first win over California since 2008. And of course, we know how dominant Oregon State has been in Corvallis this year, posting a 14-1 record at Gill Coliseum. But if Oregon can win at least two of these next three games, along with a win or two in the Pac-12 tournament, they just might be breaking out the dancing shoes next month.