Oregon beats Utah 64-45 to reach Pac-12 title game

LAS VEGAS — The Oregon Ducks watched Utah pulled off two upsets in the Pac-12 tournament and saw firsthand what the Utes were capable of in the regular season.

Their goal in the semifinals was to jump on the Utes early, not give them any hope.

Oregon did just that and now gets a chance to play for a championship.

Damyean Dotson and E.J. Singler scored 14 points each and Oregon raced away from Utah early for a 64-45 win Friday night at the Pac-12 tournament.

“We tried to set the tone from the start with our defense, not give them any easy buckets because that will get their energy going on the defensive end for them,” said Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd, who had 10 points.

Oregon (25-8) had its regular-season conference title chances spoiled by Utah (15-18) last weekend, but gave the Utes no chance of a repeat upset at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The third-seeded Ducks built a 14-point lead in the first half and kept the cushion near double figures the rest of the way to earn a spot in Saturday’s title game against No. 21 UCLA.

Oregon won its lone regular-season game against the top-seeded Bruins, who lost second-leading scorer Jordan Adams to a broken foot at the end of their win over No. 18 Arizona in the other semifinal.

“If you can’t get an adrenaline rush and get excited about playing the conference championship and playing UCLA, then you don’t have a heartbeat,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.

Oregon stifled Jarred DuBois and Jordan Loveridge, Utah’s top two scorers, all night. DuBois, who’s been bothered by an injured hand, missed all eight of his shots and went scoreless, while Loveridge had eight points on 1-of-10 shooting.

With its top two scorers struggling, Utah had little chance of pulling off a third straight upset.

The tired Utes shot 29 percent and went 5 of 17 from 3-point range after playing for the third straight night.

Brandon Taylor had 13 points and senior Jason Washburn added 12 in what’s likely his last game for Utah, which will miss the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season.

“All I ever wanted was to win and get back to the top,” an emotional Washburn said. “Unfortunately in my era, we couldn’t do that.”

The Pac-12 had a surprise tournament champion last season, when Colorado won four games in four days to earn the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament berth.

Utah was hoping to make it two straight to go four in four.

The 10th-seeded Utes opened this year’s tournament by knocking off No. 7 seed Southern California and followed that up with a 79-69 overtime victory over No. 2 Cal on Thursday night.

Oregon also needed overtime to get through the quarterfinals, pulling out an 80-77 win over Washington after Arsalan Kazemi rallied from being benched by scoring 11 of his 14 points in the extra period.

Utah had to be optimistic against the Ducks, too.

After losing by nine to Oregon on the road, the Utes spoiled the Ducks’ bid for the Pac-12 regular-season title with a 72-62 win at home in the regular-season finale.

Oregon came out ready to get its revenge for the title-costing loss, limiting the Utes’ scoring chances while building a 14-point lead in the first half.

Utah made 6 of 19 shots in the first half and had eight turnovers that led to 10 points for Oregon.

Dotson led the Ducks with 10 points in the first half.

Oregon kept the pressure up to start the second half, hitting five of its first nine shots and going up 41-22 after Emory hit a 3-pointer and threw down a dunk in transition.

The Utes tried to fight their way back, pulling within 47-39 after a 12-4 run, but Oregon fought back, not letting them any closer.

“They executed their game plan,” DuBois said. “They were the better team.”

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