Joseph Young had never hit a game-winner in his life before Friday's Pac-12 tournament semifinal against the Utah Utes. With a spot in the Pac-12 championship on the line, he changed that.
With the game tied 64-64, Young dribbled up the court with mere seconds left on the clock, pulled up from way beyond the arc, and drained the game-winner to send the Ducks to the conference championship game against Arizona, defeating Utah 67-64 on Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
THIS IS WHY THEY CALL HIM JOEY BUCKETS https://t.co/IsNxbg1at8— Autzen Students (@AutzenStudents) March 14, 2015
The radio call by Jerry Allen and Andy McNamara is as magical as you'd expect it to be.
As a matter of fact, Young wasn't even supposed to dribble the ball up court at first. Dana Altman had a play drawn up where Casey Benson would take the ball and pass to Young, who would be coming off a screen. But Young had other ideas. He wanted the ball in his hands the entire way. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he executed.
Young's 3-pointer capped off another big scoring night for the senior as he led the Ducks with 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting.
Oregon might not have been in a position to win the game had it not been for Young's red-hot start in the second half with seven points, including a 3-pointer, in the first five minutes to put Oregon back in the lead for the first time since the first two minutes of the game.
Young's hot start helped spark a 13-4 scoring run to put them up 54-48 just over midway through the second half, their largest lead of the night to that point.
Just moments earlier, Oregon fans were in shock as Young was called for a charging foul, giving Utah the ball back with 12.1 seconds left to go and a chance to tie or win the game. On Utah's next possession, Jordan Bell was called for a questionable foul on Delon Wright with seven seconds left in the game and Oregon leading 64-62. Wright sunk both free throws as Bell fouled out.
Bell finished the night with just two points, but had two crucial back-to-back blocks with Oregon leading 63-60 late in the game.
I can't retweet all of the "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" tweets fast enough. #UtahvsOregon— Addicted To Quack (@AddictedToQuack) March 14, 2015
Wright had another big night for the Utes, scoring 16 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists.
Brandon Taylor did all he could for Utah, scoring 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting. With 2:35 remaining in the game, Taylor drained one of his six 3-pointers to tie the game at 60-60 with 2:35 to go. Without his effort, Oregon likely would've cruised to a double-digit victory.
But on Oregon's next possession, Elgin Cook, who has been one of Oregon's key leaders this season, came away with a huge three-point play, putting Oregon up 63-60 with just over two minutes to play. Cook finished the night with 13 points and three rebounds.
GIF | Elgin Cook gets the tip to fall over two Utes!! Ducks lead 62-60, Cook will go to the FT line after the TO. pic.twitter.com/aF7S30rNxX— Oregon Basketball (@OregonMBB) March 14, 2015
Both sides got off to a hot start offensively, combining for 27 points in the first five minutes of the game. Utah hit their first four shots, including a pair of 3-pointers by Delon Wright and Brandon Taylor, while Oregon hit four of their first six shots. The scoring settled down though, especially for the Ducks, who missed six of their next seven shots.
With Young on the bench after drawing two early fouls, freshman Casey Benson stepped in and played a crucial role defensively late in the first half, coming away with three steals, helping keep the game within reach for the Ducks early on.
Oregon struggled from deep in the first half, shooting just 4-of-13 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Brandon Taylor was on fire during the first half for the Utes, hitting 4-of-5 shots from 3-point range. Taylor led all scorers in the first half with 16 points.
Utah held a 31-30 lead at the half. Despite shooting significantly better than the Ducks in the first half, Utah committed 11 turnovers, allowing Oregon to keep pace.
Oregon shooting 35.7 percent. Utah shooting 55 percent. Ducks have 8 more FG attempts mostly because of 11 Utah turnovers.— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) March 14, 2015
The Ducks will now play for the Pac-12 tournament championship against top-seeded Arizona. In their previous two meetings this year, the Wildcats got the best of the Ducks on both occasions. On January 8 in Eugene, Arizona beat Oregon 80-62. Then, on January 28, the Wildcats handed Oregon one of their ugliest losses of the year in a 90-56 thumping.
Both teams have already locked up a spot in the Big Dance, but you can bet that's not good enough for either of these two schools. Rest up, Ducks fans. We've got a conference tournament to win on Saturday.