The Oregon Ducks will try to salvage a split with the mountain schools in the Pac-12 Saturday afternoon when they face host Utah in Salt Lake City.
The fourth-ranked Ducks fell 74-65 to Colorado in the Pac-12 opener for both teams on Thursday night, falling behind by as many as 15 points in the second half before their comeback attempt came up short. Oregon’s downfall was one of its strengths this season, 3-point shooting.
The Ducks (11-3, 0-1 Pac-12) made just 3 of 18 treys. They entered the game fifth in the nation and tops in the Pac-12 with a 3-point percentage of 41.7.
“They hit some big shots there, especially late. Made some big plays,” Ducks coach Dana Altman told the school website. “Our ball movement [in] the first half was poor. We’ve got to hit some shots to start our press.”
Payton Pritchard’s 21 points led Oregon, and the Ducks were at full strength with Shakur Juiston back from a five-game injury absence, but lost their ninth straight game in Boulder.
“We’ve won a lot of games; this is just one place we’ve had a hard time,” Altman told The Oregonian newspaper. “Colorado’s won once at our place. We haven’t won here. It’s one of those things.”
Now comes a Utah team coming off an 81-69 win over Oregon State on Thursday. The Utes (10-3, 1-0) got 25 points and 10 rebounds from forward Timmy Allen, who made 13 of 15 free throws.
Oregon has won 12 of the last 13 games between two teams, including four straight in Salt Lake City.
Utah trailed 11-4 early against the Beavers but got going, and led the entire second half. The 81 points Thursday night is the second-highest point total in a Pac-12 opening game for Utah since joining the league in 2011.
“It’s good to get the first win out of the way. We didn’t come out how we would have liked to, but we picked it up as the game went on,” Allen told the Utes’ athletic website. “We pushed them in transition, we have the advantage with the altitude, and it was fun.”
Guard Both Gach scored 17 points and guard Rylan Jones added 14 for the Utes, who held the Beavers to 3 of 21 from 3-point range.
Utah emphasized pushing the pace, and it paid off.
“Yeah, we’ve gotten away from it and that was the first thing we worked on when we got back from Christmas,” coach Larry Krystowiak said. “We had a number of guys that thought they were our point guards that were jogging and Both and Timmy and Rylan were all waiting for it and we cleaned that up. I think our bigs did a good job running the floor. It takes all five guys to be committed to that, and it’s a big emphasis for us.”
Oregon started Pac-12 play 0-2 last season before going on to win the conference tournament and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
–Field Level Media