Las Vegas, NV. – The Oregon Ducks had a good start to the Pac-12 Tournament easily dispatching No. 11-seeded Washington State 84-51 in the final game of first day action at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Cougars opening the game by missing 12 of their first 13 shots while committing 13 turnovers. The Ducks moved out to an 18-3 lead and never looked back. Reserve guard Ehab Amin led the Ducks with 17 points while freshmen Miles Norris added 14 and fellow frosh Louis King chipped in with 12 points. 6-9 freshman center Francis Okoro had another nice effort with eight points and eight rebounds.
Washington State (11-21) did manage to connect of 4-of-17 three-points attempts in the first half while shooting 22.7 percent overall and committed 16 turnovers. Oregon guarded Robert Franks, the Pac-12’s leading scorer (22.1 ppg) very well the last time the two teams played and took that up a notch tonight. Franks had only four points at the half while missing on all of his four three-point attempts. He ended the contest with only eight points and was 0-of-6 on 3s. Oregon was much more efficient on offense hitting 47 percent of their shots. Their defense continued to be solid, continuing their late season effectiveness as they generated a 21-2 advantage in points after turnovers and an 11-1 edge in steals. Amin led Oregon at the half with ten points, connecting on 2-of-3 from deep.
Oregon extended their lead to 26 points (46-20) early in the second half on back-to-back three-pointers by Paul White and Payton Pritchard and it was lights out for the Cougars. The Ducks coasted from there using their bench extensively as they rested their regulars for the daily grind of the tournament.
Oregon (20-12) is playing their best ball of the season, especially defensively. They will face No. 3-seed Utah in the final game of tomorrow’s action.
There were no upsets on this first day of action. In the opener USC (16-16) broke open a 40-40 halftime tie and pulled away from a dispirited Arizona (17-15) team 78-65. Bennie Boatwright led the Trojans with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Arizona shot 2-of-14 from distance in the second half. The second game was an uninspiring affair with Colorado (20-11) outlasting California (8-23) 56-51. The Buffaloes won despite committing 23 turnovers. They out-rebounded Cal 40-19. All-Conference point guard McKinley Wright led Colorado with 18 points, hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers.
In the first game of the evening session UCLA (17-15) topped Stanford 79-72. The Bruins had a 14-point halftime lead which they extended to 26 points midway through the second half. The Cardinal (15-16) stormed back to make the final score respectable but the game was never in doubt. Point guard Jaylen Hands led UCLA with 22 points and 11 rebounds but was loose with the ball, committing seven turnovers. 7-0 Josh Sharma was effective in his final college game for the Cardinal with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.