A potential game-tying layup by Utah was blocked by Oregon’s Kenny Wooten as the final buzzer sounded, giving Oregon a 68-66 victory over Utah in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas.
Justin Bibbins led the Utes with 20 points and four assists. As a team, Utah shot 51 percent from the field, its highest mark in any loss this season. Prior to tonight, Utah was 8-0 when shooting 50 percent or better.
Utah was in control for most of the game as it held the lead for nearly 75 percent of the game. Midway through the second half, the Utes even commanded an 11-point lead. From that point on though, Utah was outscored by Oregon 25-12.
Oregon’s Elijah Brown led the Ducks in scoring with 21 points, all of which came from behind the arc where he shot 58.3 percent.
MiKyle McIntosh also played a critical role for the Ducks. He had 18 points, seven of which came in the final three minutes of the game.
When Brown or McIntosh did miss, the odds were pretty good that Oregon continued the possession with an offensive rebound. Utah struggled with getting defensive rebounds throughout the night, giving up a total of 12 offensive rebounds to Oregon that resulted in nine second chance points.
The biggest challenge for the Utes, however, was foul trouble.
“They shot 17 free throws in the second half. That’s probably the biggest difference in the game,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak following the game.
In total, there were a combined 40 fouls called against Utah and Oregon throughout the game; an average of one whistle every 60 seconds.
The foul calls especially hurt the production of David Collette who was only able to play for a few minutes at a time before being called for fouls which Krystkowiak called “ticky-tack” following the game.
“Nobody wants to watch college basketball when guys sit on the bench with foul trouble,” Krystkowiak said.
Collette made the most of his limited time on the court as he racked up 16 points in 19 minutes, even while playing on a recovering sprained ankle sustained last week against Colorado.
“When you’re a senior, you have to have a broken foot to not go out there and play,” Bibbins said after the game, referring to Collette’s toughness in playing through his injured ankle.
“There aren’t too many people who are going to be playing on that so I give him a hell of a lot of credit,” Krystkowiak said.
The loss marks the second year in a row in which Utah earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament, only to lose in the second round. The early exit from the tournament essentially eliminates Utah from consideration for the NCAA Tournament by ways of where the team stood in prediction brackets, so the Utes will likely await an invitation from the NIT.