Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks currently in third place in the Pac-12 conference had their best chance for an important win against a top team as the No. 9-ranked Utah Utes came to town. A win over Utah would give Oregon a key win to push them into the NCAA tournament picture. Oregon came through, lead by an inspired second half performance by Dillon Brooks (19 points) and beat the Utes 69-58 in front of 10,725 fans. Delon Wright led Utah with 20 points.
The Duck built an early seven-point lead in the second half before Utah came back with key plays, a Wright three-pointer and a traditional three-point play by Brekkott Chapman on an inside drive. That cut the lead to one. But Dillon Brooks hit three straight jumpers, the second a three-pointer to extend Oregon’s lead to 55-45 at the five-minute mark. After Utah cut the lead to three, Brooks scored four more points, the last a dunk on a drive through the lane. Joseph Young’s (14 points) three-pointer from the corner extended the lead back to seven with 1:40 left and essentially put the game away.
Oregon looked good in the first half, taking a 32-27 lead into the break. The Ducks forced Utah into 11 first half turnovers. That, combined with some key shooting from their bench players, Dwayne Benjamin, Ahmaad Rorie and Casey Benson, who were a combined 5-of-6 from the field including a perfect 3-of-3 from deep, was enough for the 5-point halftime lead. Elgin Cook led the Ducks at the break with eight points while Delon Wright had seven for the Utes.
We got another look at Utah’s two future first round NBA Draft picks in Wright and Jakob Poeltl. Wright is one of the most effective players in the nation. According to Ken Pomeroy’s statistical website he has been battling Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky as the top player statistically in the country. Going into tonight’s game Wright leads the Utes in minutes (32.5), points (14.1), assists (5.4) and steals (2.2). He’s also second on the team in rebounds (4.7) and blocks (0.8). His assists to turnover ratio is at an extremely strong 2.93. Wright needs to improve his shooting at the next level (27.1% on 3’s) but that appears likely with time. He’s shooting over 82% from the foul stripe. Wright is long, excellent defensively and will likely have a long NBA career as a starting point guard. Today Wright became more aggressive offensively after Utah got behind by seven points in the second half. He made 4-of-6 three-pointers and had 13 second-half points and 20 for the game.
Poeltl, the 7’0 center, has been a surprise in his first year in the USA after coming over from Austria. He has excellent hands, runs the floor well and can rebound well outside of his area. He has very good instincts on defense with good timing as a shot-blocker and can defend well away from the basket and against ball screens. On offense Poeltl needs development but his footwork is very good and he is athletic around the hoop. He generally works very well with Wright in the pick-and-roll. He takes good shots around the basket and is averaging 67.7% on his field goal attempts. He averages 7.4 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game and is ranked fifth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage according to kenpom.com. Today he scored the Utes’ first four points of the game and then was shut down, finishing with five points and four rebounds. One area of his game that needs improvement is his free throw shooting. Poeltl is shooting 44.6% on the year and was 1-of-5 today, several of the misses as the Utes were trying to come back in the game.
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