Las Vegas, NV (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pac-12 Conference Tournament will be narrowed down to just two teams once the 17th-ranked and third-seeded Utah Utes and second-seeded Oregon Ducks conclude their semifinal round clash at MGM Grand Garden Arena Friday night.
The winner will advance to the championship bout Saturday to face either the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats or the fourth-seeded UCLA Bruins with the league title on the line.
As has been the case all season for Utah, the Utes were able to push past Stanford on Thursday with a strong defensive effort. Utah took down the Cardinal to advance to the semifinal round with an 80-56 victory.
Oregon and Colorado engaged in a high-scoring affair Thursday night, but it was the Ducks who eventually prevailed by a 93-85 margin. Oregon has won six games dating back to the regular season, and will look for its second conference championship in the last three seasons.
The two Pac-12 foes met only once during the regular season back on Feb. 22, which saw the Ducks come away with a 69-58 victory in Eugene.
Stanford actually pulled ahead of Utah and led the Utes at halftime. However, thanks to a 50-percent shooting mark from the field in the second half, adding in a defensive push the limited the Cardinal to 25 percent shooting in the second frame, the Utes were able to come back. Delon Wright netted 20 points with seven rebounds and five assists to lead the charge, while Jordan Loveridge added 18 points and eight rebounds. Jakob Poeltl netted 16 points in the win.
The strong campaign for Wright continues. The guard entered Thursday's matchup with Stanford leading the team in scoring at 14.7 ppg, helping the Utes collect 72.1 ppg as a unit. Still, the story for Utah this season has been on the defensive end, as the team limited competition to 56.6 ppg. In Utah's loss to Oregon during the regular season, the Utes shot just 36.5 percent from the floor and were led by 20 points from Wright, while no other Utah player collected a double-figure scoring total.
Oregon was on fire offensively Thursday against Colorado. The Ducks buried 53.2 percent of their field-goal attempts in the contest, and were led by Joseph Young's 30-point, seven-rebound and four-assist outburst. Elgin Cook poured in 20 points, and Jalil Abdul-Basit contributed 15 points. Dwayne Benjamin rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points and eight rebounds for the Ducks, who took down Colorado twice this season.
Young's 30-point explosion Thursday only helped his league-leading scoring average. The guard went into the quarterfinal round on Thursday averaging a Pac-12-best 19.8 ppg, adding in an Oregon-best 116 assists. The Ducks trailed only Arizona in terms of Pac-12 scoring offenses headed into Thursday, averaging 76.0 ppg. In the Ducks' 69-58 victory over Utah back on Feb. 22, Dillon Brooks led the scoring charge with 19 points and seven rebounds. Young contributed 14 points in that victory.