LAS VEGAS — And that makes three.
Utah’s 66-54 loss to Oregon late Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena marked the third consecutive year that the Utes were knocked out of the Pac-12 Tournament in the quarterfinals.
Any hope of ending the skid clanged off the rim — and often. Utah missed 21 of its 23 shots from 3-point range. Those misses proved to be the big difference in a game where the Utes held the Ducks to just 18 points in the first half, outrebounded them 38-36 and turned the ball over just 12 times.
“It was physical at the point of attack. There was a lot of contact throughout the course of the game,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “But definitely give them credit. As we all know, it’s Oregon’s defense that’s put them in the position they’re in right now. And with as physical as the game is, it fits their blueprint.”
As a result, the Utes were left feeling a bit... blue, if you will.
Senior guards Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke, who were a combined 1 of 16 from 3-point territory, acknowledged it was a tough setback.
“It’s disappointing. Obviously it hasn’t sunk in yet, but overall I think we fought hard tonight,” said Barefield, who added that it was one of the more physical games he had played in. “It just comes down to little things that we could have and couldn’t have prevented.”
In a somber Utah locker room following the game, Van Dyke admitted it was so sad to be on the short end of the stick.
“Their defensive pressure definitely got to us a little bit,” he said. “I think sometimes when you are open you’re a little caught off-guard and you’re maybe off-balance a little bit.”
Utah missed its first four shots in the second half, and Oregon used a 6-0 run to get back into the game. The Ducks eventually took the lead and pulled away.
“It’s obviously not the way you want to finish it,” Krystkowiak said. “But I’m proud of this group for staying connected and working real hard.”
Utah led 24-18 at the half while holding Oregon to 28 percent shooting. The Ducks wound up putting 48 points on the board in the second half, connecting on 61 percent of their shots.
“We lost our momentum,” Krystkowiak said. “We needed to make some of those threes to keep it interesting. It got away from us at the end.”
Sophomore Donnie Tillman led the Utes with 18 points, while freshman Timmy Allen added 14. Junior center Jayce Johnson had a solid outing with 12 rebounds, nine points and four blocks.
The Utes, though, only had seven assists as the Ducks applied consistent pressure.
“I just think we didn’t have a good day with getting the ball in the basket on offense from the 3-point line,” Johnson said. “And we just had some turnovers that we couldn’t control.”14 comments on this story
Tillman noted that the Ducks are just a talented group to play. They’ve defeated the Utes in five of the last seven Pac-12 tourneys.
“They speed you up. You really can’t do much,” Tillman explained. “They force you into bad shots. Shots you think are open and then they’re still flying at you.”
Krystkowiak said the Utes would not play in any tournament short of the NIT. At 17-14, that appears a long shot. They reached the finals of the NIT last year.
“We would love a crack at getting back to it,” Krystkowiak said. “But at this point it’s not really in our control.”