Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks squared off against the Utah Utes with both trying to remain near the top of the Pac-12 standings. It was Oregon that led early and kept Utah at a distance throughout the duration of the game to come away with 68-56 win at Matthew Knight Arena in front of 8,228 fans. Oregon was led by guard Jermaine Couisnard who paced the Ducks to victory with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists placing Oregon to one game back of second place in the Pac-12 standings.
Utah’s Branden Carlson, their leading scorer (16.6 ppg) and rebounder (7.5 rpg), traded baskets with Oregon in the opening stages of the game. The 7-footer can score both inside and out, including the ability to square up against his opponent to shoot or put the ball on the floor. He scored early, but Oregon held him in check the remainder of the game. Carlson did get to the free throw line, converting 9-out-10. He finished with 13 points (2-for-14 FG) and eight rebounds, while going 0-for-6 on 3s.
Oregon took control of the game by going on 16-3 run over a ten-minute stretch led by N’Faly Dante. He overpowered the Utes in the paint at both ends of the floor, scoring eight out of nine total points for the game in the first half. He added 10 rebounds, one point shy from another double-double. The Ducks defense stepped up as well by holding Utah without a field goal for that stretch by keeping them out of the paint and forcing them to shoot outside. Utah shot 28 percent from the field (8-for-29 FG) in the opening half. Fellow big Nate Bittle backed up his solid performance against Colorado with another strong game finishing the contest with nine points (4-for-6 FG), six rebounds and three blocks.
After leading 36-25 at the break, the Ducks extended their lead behind player of the game, Couisnard. The 6-5 combo guard looked for his shot from the perimeter off the catch and used his strength to get to the hoop. He scored 12 of his game high 18 points (7-for-14 FG) in the second half, while connecting on two 3s. Oregon’s lead grew to as much as 16 points (62-46) with four minutes remaining. Utah’s Lazar Stefanovich scored a team high 14 points on 4-for-8 from downtown and was trying to shoot the Utes back in the game, as they pulled back within eight points with under two minutes left in the contest.
The Ducks closed the game out behind veteran Will Richardson, who took charge by making the right decisions during the latter stages of the game with the basketball in his hands. The 6’5” guard was unable to find his shot throughout most of the game but stayed aggressive and helped to contribute 12 points on 5-for-15 from the field and seven assists.
Also, Oregon got solid minutes off the bench from 6-9 Lok Wur. He displayed relentless energy and hustle in his 12 minutes on the court. He pulled down four rebounds, added two blocked shots and the team was plus-17 while he was on the floor. The Ducks’ size and strength proved too much for Utah, as Oregon controlled the boards with a 41-32 advantage and dominated points in the paint by a 32-14 margin.
Oregon (13-9, 7-4) will travel to face one of the nation’s top teams in Arizona (19-3, 8-3) on February 2nd. Utah (15-8, 8-4) will return home to challenge Stanford (9-12, 3-7) also on February 2nd.
This article was written by Chad Mart, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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