Men's Basketball Takes Oregon to the Wire in Near Loss
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball team pushed Oregon to the limit Saturday night and fighting tooth-and-nail in the narrow 80-77 loss to UO inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Gabe Madsen got off to a white-hot start for the Utes, drilling 3-of-4 from 3-point range to put the Utes ahead 9-3 before the Ducks settled in and took an 18-16 lead at the 11:26 media break. A scoring drought then plagued the Utes, which led to a 15-4 run by Oregon to set Utah back 33-20.
Both teams were pretty even the rest of the half as Utah (9-15, 2-12 Pac-12) headed into the locker room down 43-31 despite Oregon knocking down 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes of action.
Utah battled in the second half, slowly chipping away at the UO lead, and got within 56-52 after Riley Battin converted on an and-1 opportunity with 10:50 left to go. The Ducks (15-7, 8-2 Pac-12), however, answered right back with a 9-3 run to go back up 65-55 heading into the 7:56 media timeout.
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Down 71-57 with just under five minutes to play, Rollie Worster connected with Marco Anthony for a T-Mac-esque one-handed jam down the middle of the paint to get the crowd on the feet. That dunk soon saw Madsen reel off eight-straight points and brought the Runnin' Utes within 74-69 with 1:17 on the clock. A great drive and finish at the rack by Worster made it a 3-point game, forcing an Oregon timeout (1:03).
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After Both Gach scored out of the previous timeout, Utah stopped the clock once again with 32.2 ticks remaining to set up its defense. That pause benefited the Utes as they forced UO's De'Vion Harmon to commit a travel, which led to Anthony knocking down both free throws to make it 76-75 with 21.4 left.
An exchange of free throws on the next two offensive possession for both teams once again made it a one-point game (78-77) before Oregon was able to score on a long heave. Eli Ballstaedt had a chance to tie the game with a 45-foot shot that nearly went in but it caught the corner of the rim and left the Ducks with a huge sigh of relief.
Madsen finished with a team-high 19 points on five 3-pointers while Anthony recorded his fourth-career double-double, second as a Ute, with 15 points and 12 boards – eight of which came on the offensive glass. Worster had another solid night, chipping in with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists to go with zero turnovers. Branden Carlson rounded things out for Utah with 11 points and six rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting.
The Utah Athletics Department honored former Runnin' Ute great Tom Chambers at halftime with an honored jersey ceremony. Chambers and his family were on hand at halftime for the ceremony along with former teammates.
BY THE NUMBERS
Utah was able to turn 13 Oregon turnovers into a 21-15 edge … the Utes also managed to outscore UO 32-26 in the paint … Utah, who came into the game fifth in the country in 3-point field goal defense (.303), allowed Oregon to shoot 50-percent from the floor (13-of-26) … Utah struggled at the line, hitting just 15-of-23 despite being a top-25 team nationally heading into the game.
Utah will get some extra days of prep as it begins a three-game road swing starting with Colorado next Saturday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. (MT) on Pac-12 Networks.
For the latest news and information on the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program, fans can stay connected online at www.UtahUtes.com and on social media by following @UtahMBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.