OREGON SETTING A NEW DEFENSIVE STANDARD ON THE HARDWOOD – Ducks Take Down Utah 66-54 and Move to the Semi’s of the Conference Tournament

Defense! Defense! Defense!

Oregon’s strong defensive effort continued in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament with a 66-54 win over No. 3 seed Utah at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The Ducks will now face Arizona State in the semis after the Devils defeated UCLA 83-72.

The win is Oregon’s sixth straight and in those six games, the opponent hasn’t been able to score more than 61 points thanks to a suffocating defense that showed up almost out of nowhere.

But where ever it came from, the Ducks aren’t complaining.

Payton Pritchard and Louis King each led Oregon with 20 points in the game ledger.

Pritchard also managed five assists and four rebounds.

It’s been a noticeable turnaround for Pritchard during this late season run.   The 6’2 junior has been the catalyst in every category during this six game win streak which began February 28th when he led the Ducks to a 79-51 beat down of Arizona State who the Ducks square off with tonight.

In that game, Pritchard connected on 6 of 10 shots from the field and drilled 2 of 3 shots from distance for 18 points.

Thursday’s quarterfinal game against the No. 3 seed Utes wasn’t anywhere near a stroll down victory lane.  In fact, at halftime advancing to the next round was a dicey situation at best.    Oregon scored just 18 points in the first half.  Fortunately for the Ducks though, Utah wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard either.

It was 24-18 at the break.

The Utes, who led the conference in scoring and three-point shooting in the regular season, shot 37 percent from the field and just 1-of-10 from long range in the first 20 minutes and 2-of-23 for the game.

Their shooting woes continued in the second half and the Ducks were forcing turnovers and making easy shots.  Oregon turned a 24-18 deficit into a 38-32 lead with 10 minutes to play.

With the win, Oregon improved to 21-12 overall.

And while the Ducks probably need to win the conference tournament to get into the Big Dance, another win over second place ASU would at the very least give the committee something to think about, especially since the Ducks ended the regular season with a 55-47 road win over conference champion Washington.

The Ducks and Devils will meet Friday night on ESPN around 8:30 pm or 30 minutes after the other semi-final matchup between No. 1 Washington and No. 5 Colorado.

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