PORTLAND The biggest bright spot in the Utes' 75-64 defeat Saturday was the play of guard Tyler Kepkay.
The junior college transfer from Vancouver, Canada, by way of College of Eastern Utah, had a breakout game, scoring 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting. He also came up with a pair of steals and led the Utes with three assists.
"I thought Tyler Kepkay was terrific today," Ute coach Jim Boylen said. "That's how I envisioned him playing when we recruited him. Toughness ... he makes two steals, he's on the floor, getting into the paint, shooting behind screens ... he got good looks and made them and got us back in the game."
Kepkay scored 13 points first-half points, including 11 in a five-minute stretch when the Utes went from five down to four ahead.
"I'm just getting more comfortable within the offense, taking what the defense gives me," he said. "I thought for the most part when we didn't run sets and were just playing the game and just playing off each other, we were getting open shots and things were happening."
FOUL DISPARITY: The Utes ended up outrebounding the Ducks 32-31, made three more 3-pointers and made just two fewer field goals. So what was the big difference in the game?
Fouls and free throws.
The Utes were whistled for 21 fouls compared to 10 for the Ducks and only attempted five free throws compared to 22 for the Ducks and it wasn't a case of a bunch of late free throws by the winning team as the Ducks had just three in the final five minutes.
"You can't shoot five free throws on the road and give up 22," Boylen said during the post-game press conference. "You just can't do that."
When asked about the foul disparity later, Boylen had to hold his tongue. He did acknowledge that perhaps his players didn't drive to the hoop as much as they should have, but he didn't believe they necessarily settled for too many outside shots.
NEXT YEAR: Even though Saturday's game was played on a neutral floor, 105 miles from Eugene, the Ducks will play at the Huntsman Center next year, not the EnergySolutions Arena.
"They needed a quality opponent for this game and we're a good draw as a nationally known program," Boylen said. "We agreed to it, knowing they are coming (to the Huntsman Center). I thought it was a heck of a deal."
WHAT IS PAPE'?: This was the 10th annual Pape' Jam game at the Rose Garden, home of the Portland Trailblazers.
It gets its name from the Pape' Group, a local trucking and machinery company run by Oregon booster Randall C. Pape.
Including Saturday's triumph, Oregon has won nine of the 10 games, losing only to Illinois in 2005.
The Oregon women's team plays a preliminary game every year in the Pape' Jam and the Ducks won for the 10th straight year, defeating UC Santa Barbara 65-56.
BOGUT SIGHTING: Former Ute all-American Andrew Bogut was on hand to cheer on the Utes and greeted coach Jim Boylen and some of the players after the game.
Bogut was in town for a game Sunday with his Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Portland Trailblazers. He told Boylen afterward how impressed he was with the Utes and said they'd "win a lot of games this year."
LAST TIME: The Utes have played at the Rose Garden once previously.
It was during the Final Four season in 1997 when they took on Oregon State and won 69-61 in the second game of a doubleheader known as the Ford Classic.
Michael Doleac was playing in his hometown for the first time and scored 21 points to lead the Utes, while Andre Miller chipped in 18.GAME NOTES: Oregon's win evened the all-time series between the two schools at 7-7 . . . The Utes and Ducks last played in 2003 in the NCAA Tournament in Nashville ... The attendance was 11,447, about 400 more than last year's Pape' Jam game vs. Nebraska ... Stephen Weigh, who missed two games with bruised ribs, played just four minutes and missed his only shot attempt.
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