Eugene, OR – The No. 17-ranked Oregon Ducks caught fire early and often against the visiting Utah Utes. The duo of Payton Pritchard and Will Richardson combined to score 43 points including nine three pointers as the Ducks cruised to an 80-62 victory at Matthew Knight Arena with 8,542 in attendance. Oregon is a perfect 14-0 on their home court this season with three home games remaining on their schedule. With the win the Ducks moved into a tie for first place in the Pac-12.
The Ducks came out with a barrage of threes from the start. Pritchard and Richardson hit 7-of-8 three pointers to give Oregon a 24-13 lead midway through the first half. The senior Pritchard was dynamite shooting the ball and found his rhythm once again. In the first half alone, he tallied 17 points on 6-of-8 from the field, with five three pointers. To end the first half, he penetrated left, stepped back to get separation from his defender, and hit the mid-range jumper to give Oregon a 44-30 half time edge. He finished with a game high 25 points (8-for-13 FG). As a team, Oregon shot a staggering 67 percent from distance hitting 10-of-15 shots to jump on the Utes in the first half.
Richardson was perfect from beyond the arc going 4-for-4. This season, Richardson is shooting 49 percent from the three-point line. In the opening half, the 6-5 guard poured in 13 points and ended the contest with a very efficient 18 points (7-for-8 FG) total. He also added six rebounds and six assists. One of many impressive passes in the night came when Richardson beat his defender off the dribble and threw a no-look pass to teammate Addison Patterson for a one-handed slam to get the crowd on their feet.
Utah’s 7-0 center Branden Carlson paced the Utes by shooting 4-for-4 from the field to score eight first half points. As a true freshman, Carlson had a great feel for the game and showcased some low post skills. He could be a top Pac-12 performer in the future. In the second half, the Utes had a hard time setting up the seven-footer in the post as he made only one basket on two attempts. His night ended with 10 points (5-for-6 FG), seven rebounds, and two blocks.
Utah was led by true freshman Rylan Jones as their lead scorer Timmy Allen had an off night scoring. Jones battled tough with national player of the year candidate Pritchard as he hit four 3s of his own. The 6-1 point guard scored a team high 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting as he tried to rally the Utes, but Oregon always had an answer to stop any run. Allen struggled during the contest by shooting just 2-for-8 to score 10 points, well below his season average of 17.6. He managed to get to the free throw line nine times, making six from the strike. In addition, he dished out six assists (6 turnovers) and pulled down three rebounds.
Several Oregon role players delivered key contributions, including the bench which outscored Utah 26-15. Anthony Mathis, a three point specialist, scored nine points making 3-of-5 from the three point line. Patterson, a true freshman, has had his playing time increase in the past two games and he has taken advantage of his opportunities. He made several impressive lay-ins and dunks to show off his leaping ability. He finished with 10 points (4-for-7 FG), three assists, and two rebounds.
Oregon’s big men Shakur Juiston and Francis Okoro both got back on track after several subpar performances over the past few games. Juiston had 11 points (5-of-7 FG), five rebounds, and four assists while Okoro scored six points (3-for-5 FG) and grabbed four rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Ducks had an impressive overall performance as they out-dueled the Utes in several categories. Oregon shot extremely well from the floor, shooting 58 percent (30-for-52 FG) from the field and 50 percent (12-for-24 3PT) from distance. At one point, in the second half, Utah was held without a field goal for over a seven-minute stretch.
Oregon (20-6, 9-4) will head south to challenge Arizona State (17-8, 8-4), winners of five in a row, on February 20th. Utah (14-11, 5-8) will host UCLA (15-11, 8-5) in the hope of snapping a two game losing skid.
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