8:00 PM ET, January 2, 2014
Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Oregon Survives OT Test
Oregon was a win shy of sharing the Pac-12's regular-season title a season ago. The Ducks can look back to a loss at Utah in the regular-season finale as the difference.The 10th-ranked Ducks open conference play Thursday night in Salt Lake City looking to avenge their most regrettable conference loss of 2012-13 in a matchup of two teams that have been putting up plenty of points.After a perfect non-conference run, the Ducks (12-0) can match their best start since 2006-07 with a win against the Runnin' Utes (11-1), who are off to their best start since 1997-98 when they reached the national championship.Oregon's 72-62 loss at Utah on March 9 left it a game back of UCLA in the Pac-12, but the Ducks responded six days later with a 64-45 win over the Utes in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals before beating the Bruins for the tournament crown.This year, Oregon and Utah are both among the nation's top scoring teams, though neither has faced a ranked opponent.Oregon's 90.8 points per game leads the country while Utah isn't far behind at 87.4 with the nation's No. 1 field goal percentage at 54.2 percent.The Ducks finished their non-conference schedule Sunday with a 97-76 win over Morgan State. They shot 54.0 percent, including 7 of 15 from 3-point range, and hit 22 of 26 free throws, but it wasn't enough for coach Dana Altman."We've got a lot of work to do," Altman said after his team was outscored 46-43 in the second half and committed 18 turnovers.Joseph Young scored a game-high 24 points and is averaging a team-leading 20.2 in his first season with the Ducks after transferring from Houston. He's scored in double figures in all 12 games he's played.But as conference play begins against another high-scoring offense, Oregon, which was projected to finish fourth in the Pac-12 in the preseason media poll, is shifting its attention to the other end of the court."Everybody can score on this team," guard Jalil Abdul-Bassit said. "Anybody can go for 20 every night, but we really need to focus on our defense and stopping other teams."Utah lost its only road game of the year, a 69-67 defeat to Boise State on Dec. 3, but has won five straight since and is 11-0 at home. It wrapped up its non-conference schedule Saturday with a 124-51 win over St. Katherine, an NAIA school playing its inaugural season.The Utes shot a season-best 67.1 percent while leading scorer Jordan Loveridge scored 17 points in 24 minutes. He's averaging 17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds, but was held to eight points on 1-of-10 shooting against the Ducks in the Pac-12 tournament last season.Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak recognizes his team has gained plenty of optimism since going 15-18 a season ago, but he knows it is still largely untested."We haven't faced a whole lot of adversity in this preseason and there's going to be a lot of those moments of truth where you're down a few buckets or whatever the case might be," Krystkowiak said. "I think everyone can handle success when you're successful, but dealing with some of that adversity when things don't go well, we really haven't faced that yet."The Ducks went 12-6 in conference a season ago but dropped six of their last 11. The Utes, who have been picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12, went 5-13.The Ducks have won four of five against the Utes since they became conference opponents.Prior to last season's win over then-No. 19 Oregon, Utah had lost 11 straight games to ranked opponents.
|Avg Points Allowed||73.7||64.0|
|» Jan 2, 2014||ORE 70, @UTAH 68||Recap|