Utah (6-23) at Oregon (21-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 6:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Matthew Knight Arena (12,541) -- Eugene, Oregon. Television: CSN-NW. Home Record: Utah 6-9, Oregon 14-3. Away Record: Utah 0-11, Oregon 7-4. Neutral Record: Utah 0-3, Oregon 0-1. Conference Record: Utah 3-14, Oregon 12-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 8-8.
GAME NOTES: The Oregon Ducks try to close the 2011-12 regular season on a four-game winning streak, as they entertain the Utah Utes today in a Pac-12 Conference affair from Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.
Oregon is having another solid season at 21-8 overall, reaching the 20-win plateau for the 13th time in school history and it has registered back-to-back 20-win seasons for just the third time. Oregon is currently tied for third in the Pac-12 with a 12-5 record, but depending on the outcome of what is sure to be a wild Saturday, it can earn anywhere from the third to the fifth seed in next week's conference tournament. The Ducks are fresh off an impressive 90-81 win over Colorado on Thursday, their third straight.
Utah's inaugural season in the Pac-12 has not been one to write home about as the team has won just six of its 29 games overall and it is locked into 11th place in the conference standings with a 3-14 mark. The Utes have been especially brutal away from their home court, going a combined 0-14 in road and neutral-site tilts this season. They snapped an eight-game losing streak with a win over Stanford last Saturday, but they fell back to their losing ways by dropping a 77-67 decision at Oregon State on Thursday.
After 16 meetings all-time, the series between Utah and Oregon is knotted up at eight games apiece. The Ducks won a 79-68 verdict back on Feb. 2 in the first clash between the two since 2008.
Oregon had one of its most productive outings of the year at the offensive end of the court in Thursday's win, scoring 90 points while connecting on 54.4 percent of its field goal attempts, including 8-of-14 from three-point range. The hosts also made their mark at the foul line, draining 20-of-27 free throws. Devoe Joseph shined once again in the victory, scoring 24 points, and he now ranks fourth in the conference in scoring at 16.3 ppg. Joseph anchors a strong offensive attack for the Ducks, who rank fourth in Pac-12 in scoring (71.1 ppg), fifth in field goal percentage (.457) and third in three-pointers (193). E.J. Singler (13.3 ppg) and Garrett Sim (12.3 ppg) also add dynamic shooting to the mix. Oregon's top three scorers all hand out more than two assists per game, and they also each drain their free throws at better than 80 percent.
Utah's season has been a disaster at both ends of the floor, as it has a conference-worst scoring margin of -13.3 by boasting a poor scoring defense (69.2 ppg) and an absolutely dreadful scoring offense (55.9 ppg). The Utes had a strong scoring night by their standards on Thursday, connecting on 46.9 percent from the field, although they allowed Oregon State to make good on 50.9 percent of its total shots as they could not overcome a 21-point halftime deficit. The Utes had four players score in double figures in the loss, led by Dijon Farr's career-high 16 points. Josh Watkins was the standout for Utah with 15.6 ppg and 4.8 apg, but he was dismissed from the squad in mid-January for violating team rules, leaving a huge void in the lineup. In his absence, Jason Washburn (10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Chris Hines (9.8 ppg) have had to shoulder much of the scoring load.
This game has the potential to get out of hand early, as Utah has shown no sign of being able to compete with the top teams in the conference on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 85, Utah 70
03/03 10:41:19 ET