In a game that the Oregon men had to have to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, the Ducks…
Ducks Dominate In Regular Season Finale
In essence, it was a complete and utter dismantling by the Oregon collective.
"We were just making plays for each other and playing unselfishly," said Sim, who finished with 13 points in his final regular season home game at Matthew Knight Arena. "It seemed like [Utah] was always leaving someone open and we were finding that guy, so we did a nice job of playing unselfish and playing together."
As a team, the Ducks shot a scorching 65.6 percent from the field in the first half, while limiting the Utes to 5-of-22 shooting (22.7 percent) from the floor, en route to an authoritative 52-14 halftime lead. Senior Devoe Joseph did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 14 of his team-high 21 points on 6-of-6 shooting in the opening stanza.
"The defense was just amazing," said Joseph of his team scoring 27 unanswered points in the first half. "We were rebounding the ball well -- I think I looked up and it was 22 to 9 at one point -- and we were getting out and getting good looks in transition for open threes, layups, and dunks."
In fact, the highlight of the game was undoubtedly Olu Ashaolu leaping clear over a Utah defender's head and slamming home a thunderous jam that drew a foul and sent Matthew Knight Arena crowd and the Oregon bench in to a wild, celebratory frenzy. Ashaolu, who finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds, converted the free throw and wore a big grin on his face as headed to the defensive end, leaving the 10,444 in attendance with mouths still agape.
"If that's not number one on SportsCenter, I'm not watching it for three weeks," stated Joseph, beaming as he revisited his teammate's play.
With their regular season objectives now in the rearview mirror, the Ducks shift their focus to the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament next week in Los Angeles, where the winner of the Colorado-Utah game in the first round of the tournament will face Oregon in a Thursday night quarterfinal matchup. Despite NCAA Tournament hopes still remaining at-large, Joseph and the Ducks have, without question, made a tremendous transformation from the beginning of the season till now; coming together as a team believing it is a force to be reckoned entering tournament time where, in the words of Oregon head coach Dana Altman, the atmosphere is "different."
"We definitely have the talent, motivation, and desire to get to the postseason," said Joseph. "You need [those things] to get there and we have that."
Notes: Oregon junior center Tony Woods missed Saturday's game versus Utah with a shoulder injury he suffered Thursday night versus Colorado. According to Altman, Woods' shoulder was still "sore" this afternoon and the team "didn't want to take any chances tonight." Woods is expected to be ready to go when the Ducks open play Thursday night in Los Angeles at the Pac-12 Tournament.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
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