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Ducks beat down Utes to claim Pac-12 tournament crown

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With a 88-57 victory over the Utah Utes, the Oregon Ducks win the Pac-12 tournament in impressive fashion. After three straight impressive performances, Elgin Cook was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks looked for the double of the year by winning the Pac-12 tournament title to compliment the regular season title. Standing in the way was the second seeded Utah Utes who Oregon had downed by over ten points in both matchups this year.

The Ducks were the first on the board Saturday night after an Elgin Cook steal led to a quick Chris Boucher transition layup. The Ducks offense came out to a hot start as after back-to-back threes from Cook and Boucher the score was 8-2. With the Utah offense coming alive at the first timeout of the night the score was 8-7 Oregon.

Dillon Brooks continued his strong trend of play against the Utes as he came out of the timeout with a nice spinning finish. In the middle of the first half the Oregon offense hit a lull, making just one of nine straight shots. At the under-twelve minute timeout Oregon held a 10-9 lead with Jakob Poeltl heading to the free throw line.

Following two made Poeltl free throws, Utah claimed their first lead of the game. Brooks ended the brief Oregon drought with a pull up transition three to reclaim the lead. The Oregon crowd came alive for the first time of the night following a rejection of Poeltl by Jordan Bell. In the early going, the Utah zone was a problem for the Ducks offense as easy looks were few and far between. At the under-eight minute timeout, Oregon held an 18-13 lead in the low scoring affair.

Jordan Bell played a huge role in the first half as out of the timeout the sophomore immediately scored four straight points to push the lead to nine. Following a Tyler Dorsey jumper in the lane, the Ducks were in the midst of an 11-0 run. Brandon Taylor finally broke the slump for the Utes as he nailed a three to stop the nearly eight minute drought. As the Oregon offense continued to find its confidence they forced Utah into a timeout with four minutes to play with the lead up to 13.

Late in the first half the Oregon defense began to clamp down on Poeltl, forcing the Pac-12’s player of the year into frantic decisions leading to turnovers. Jordan Bell closed out his stellar first half with a buzzer beating tip-in to end the half. At halftime, Oregon held a 38-21 advantage.

The balanced scoring effort for the Ducks was a key to the first half. Boucher led the way with his nine, trailed by Dorsey with eight and Cook, Brooks and Bell all with seven. Offensive rebounding was huge for Oregon with nine offensive rebounds leading to 11-second chance points compared to the zero of Utah. Oregon also went into the half claiming an advantage of three turnovers compared to the 13 of Utah.

Out of the break the game had much the same theme as when it went into the half. With the Utes turning the ball over and missing shots, Tyler Dorsey took advantage on the offensive end extended the Oregon lead to 21.

As Utah started to claim some momentum, Dorsey immediately turned it back to way of the Ducks with an and-one finish to take his total on the night to 15. With Chris Boucher nailing his third three pointer of the night, the Oregon lead to 24 with 15 minutes to play.

Second chance points continued to be key for the Ducks as Boucher and Cook dominated the offensive glass with Poeltl on the bench for Utah. Time and time again the Oregon offense turned to Dorsey, as the freshman guard was reaching unstoppable territory with his jump shot. With the offense rolling, Dillon Brooks nailed a three to push the lead up to 30 with 12 to play.

Turnovers continued to be a major factor in the game as with ten minutes to play, the Oregon defense had forced the Utes into 17 turnovers. Dorsey continued to light up the MGM Grand as he piled up his total to 22 on the night. With a timeout at the under seven minute mark, Oregon’s lead was 70-41.

Slowly the exit party began for the Ducks as one by one Coach Altman began to pull out his star players as the game was well controlled. With the bench in the game, Oregon closed out Utah for an 88-57 blowout victory to claim the Pac-12 tournament championship.

The victory on the night was the largest margin of victory for the Ducks all season, a great bode of confidence heading into the NCAA tournament. The tournament win marks the second such title under Dana Altman and the fourth tournament victory as a program. After a string of fantastic play over the three game stretch, senior Elgin Cook was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Now we wait for the selection committee to make their decision. Catch the selection show tomorrow on CBS from 2:30-4:30.

Takeaways

#1 seed? The Ducks came out with every intention of proving of why they’re worthy to be a number one seed. One would think that the #3 RPI and the #5 Strength of Schedule would do that already, but many projections had the Ducks as a number two seed. After winning the league title outright and following that up with a conference tournament title, including a dominating final performance the Ducks pieced themselves together a fantastic resume for the tournament.

Dwayne Benjamin. Couldn’t have asked for a better situation tonight for Benjamin. Dana Altman didn’t have to use his senior much and was able to get the bruised Benjamin some rest for long periods. It was nice to see Benjamin back out there, although I thought it seemed he was limping more than most did. Hopefully the extra rest will do him well before the tournament.

Bell and Boucher combo. I’ve been very impressed with the combination of big men the last few weeks. This two guys are really starting to compliment each other’s games well and will be a matchup nightmare for teams in the NCAA tournament. Tonight the duo combined for 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks.

Oregon top performers

Tyler Dorsey. 23 points, 9 rebounds

Dillon Brooks. 18 points, 3 rebounds

Elgin Cook. 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists