Oregon pulls out OT win over Utah
SALT LAKE CITY -- Oregon finally found an opponent it couldn't overwhelm with a flurry of points. So the Ducks turned to a timely defensive play to keep their unbeaten season going.
Oregon guard Damyean Dotson latched onto a tipped pass by Utah center Dallin Bachynski in the waning seconds of overtime and raced untouched for a breakaway dunk with one second left. His basket helped 10th-ranked Oregon escape with a 70-68 victory in the Pac-12 opener for both teams on Thursday night.
"That was unbelievable," Dotson said, finishing with 11 points. "I never had a game winner like that before. It's the greatest feeling for me. That's a great way to start conference feeling."
Forward Richard Amardi had 14 points and guard Dominic Artis added 12 for the Ducks (13-0, 1-0), who matched their best start since winning 13 straight games to open the 2006-07 season.
Forward Jordan Loveridge scored 21 points for Utah, guard Delon Wright chipped in with 14 and Bachynski added 11 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
The Utes (11-2, 0-1 Pac-12) led by as much as 10 points in the second half but could not overcome the last-second turnover by Bachynski.
"We know we can play and compete with everyone in the league," Loveridge said. "Hopefully next time we can make the plays down the stretch. The guys that have been here the last few years understand what we need to do moving forward. It hurts of course but we can't sit back and think about it."
Utah was in position to win after Wright put the Utes ahead 68-66 with back-to-back baskets. But Dotson made two free throws to tie it in the final minute and then came up with the steal and winning basket in the final seconds.
Loveridge got off a 3-pointer before the buzzer, but it bounced off the rim.
Neither team shot well despite both teams ranking in the top five nationally in field-goal percentage. Oregon shot just 38.7 percent (24-of-62) from the floor. Utah shot just 38.1 percent (24-of-63) on the other end and 15.8 percent (3-of-19) from distance.
"Nobody got a rhythm to their offense," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "They're a good offensive team. I like to think we are. Neither team had a very good rhythm and missed some open shots. I don't know if it was tight because it was the first conference game. I don't know what it was. But there wasn't much flow offensively to the game."
Utah duplicated its strong defensive start in the second half and threatened to put Oregon away. The Utes built a 10-point lead at 45-35 when guard Dakarai Tucker drained a 3-pointer with 13:45 left.
That advantage did not last long. Oregon erased the deficit behind a 12-2 spurt ignited by a layup from forward Elgin Cook. The Ducks tied the score on another Cook layup and took a 51-49 lead on a tip-in basket from Amardi with 7:32 left.
The Ducks constructed a three-point lead at 58-55 on guard Johnathan Loyd's layup with 3:46 remaining. But Utah stayed within striking distance. Wright made a layup and two free throws to tie it at 60. The Utes briefly retook the lead at 62-60 when guard Brandon Taylor made two free throws with 42.4 seconds left.
Dotson answered by making two free throws on the other end with 27.5 seconds left. Utah had a chance to win it on a 3-point shot by Loveridge at the end of regulation, but he could not get it to go as time expired.
"We got a little loose with the ball and didn't have that same intensity," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "I think it was surprising to our guys to see them continue to run with us."
Utah used smothering defense to take control of the game in the opening minutes. The Utes made multiple hustle plays to force Oregon into turnovers and hurried shots. It helped Utah rip off 10 straight points after the Ducks scored the game's first basket.
Utah led by eight points after Taylor drained a 3-pointer to make it 13-5 with 13:03 remaining in the first half.
Oregon got back on track behind several big baskets from Artis. His first 3-pointer helped the Ducks slice the deficit to three at 15-12. Then Artis drove for a layup to cut the margin to one at 17-16.
Oregon tied the score three times before halftime -- the final time on a jumper from Amardi with 2:12 left in the half. Utah retook a 28-26 lead when Bachynski made a jumper on the next possession.
The Utes scored on three straight possessions -- capped by Wright's steal and resulting layup -- to take a 32-26 lead with 43 seconds left before halftime.
NOTES: Oregon shot just 37 percent (10-of-27) from the field before halftime. The Ducks entered Pac-12 play ranked fourth nationally in field goal percentage. ... Both teams have enjoyed their strongest starts in a while. Utah has its best record since starting 18-0 in the 1997-98 season. Oregon had its best start since opening the 2006-07 season at 13-0. ... Entering Thursday's action, Utah F Jordan Loveridge ranked third in the Pac-12 in rebounding (9.4) and ninth in scoring (17.3).