Connect to share and comment
Fresh off completing a flawless non-conference schedule, ninth-ranked Oregon travels to Utah to take on the Utes in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. The Ducks completed a clean sweep Sunday, turning away Morgan State 97-76 at home. Despite the stellar start, coach Dana Altman sees much that needs improving as conference play begins, saying, "I think every facet of our game. Our list starts with defense and rebounding but offensively, we have to improve too."
Utah fell a game short of also going unbeaten in non-conference play, with its only setback coming in its only road game, 69-67 to Boise State on Dec. 3. The Utes rebounded from that loss to roll off five straight wins, most recently thrashing NAIA school St. Katherine 124-51 on Saturday, and forward Jordan Loveridge says his squad is primed for its biggest test yet. "We're ready and we want to play a team like (Oregon)," he told the Deseret News. "We want to see where we're at."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT OREGON (12-0): The Ducks are the nation's most prolific offensive squad, averaging 90.8 points and totaling 80 or more in 10 of their 12 games this season. Joseph Young leads the team by averaging 20.2 points, and Mike Moser (13.9), Jason Calliste (12.3) and Damyean Dotson (11.3) all add double-digit averages. Johnathan Loyd, who recently moved into sixth place on the school's all-time assist list, is 10th in the nation with 6.7 per game.
ABOUT UTAH (11-1): Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak is letting his team hit the Pac-12 portion of its schedule with untempered excitement. "I'm not in a position to try to clam anybody down," he said, adding, "I like a bit of reckless abandon and there's going to be a lot of uncharted territory with some of the players." Loveridge leads Utah, averaging 17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds, while Delon Wright adds 14.9 points per game to go with a team-leading 5.9 assists.
1. The Ducks lead the series 11-9, including a 64-45 victory in the semifinals of last season's Pac-12 tournament.
2. Utah is off to its best start since an 18-0 run to start the 1997-98 season that culminated in a loss to Kentucky in the national championship game.
3. Oregon is 12-0 for the fifth time in school history and a win over Utah would match the Ducks' best start since 2006-07.
PREDICTION: Oregon 85, Utah 77