Utah Utes

Acceptance of culpability leads Oregon to 41-20 win over Utah

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USA Today

Acceptance of culpability leads Oregon to 41-20 win over Utah

EUGENE - Oregon coach Willie Taggart entered the post-game press conference following a 41-20 win over Utah Saturday at Autzen Stadium and before he fielded a question stated: "How about those Ducks. Winning is living, baby."

If true, then the Ducks were in desperate need of a life-saving serum following three consecutive blowout losses entering Saturday. They delivered just that with a spirited victory filled with big plays, spark and plenty of juice brought about by team-wide culpability born out of desperation. 

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Taggart made it clear during the week that his team needed to find ways to win without star quarterback Justin Herbert (collarbone) instead of allowing most of the blame for the team's woes to fall at the feet of struggling freshman backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister. Taggart forced the team last Sunday to watch its 31-14 loss at UCLA so that everyone could see that the entire team was struggling to find consistency, not only Burmeister.  

"I think that really helped our guys," Taggart said. "It cleared some things up. We challenged each other, coaches and players, to make sure we do our job and try to get better at what we do and don't worry about anyone else. Just get better at what we do."

On Saturday, Taggart saw his team firing on all cylinders. Burmeister still struggled in terms of generating big plays in the passing game. He completed 9 of 12 passes for just 47 yards but had one touchdown pass in the first quarter and threw no interceptions. What made that hold up were 347 yards rushing and an opportunistic defense that produced a touchdown and prevented Utah from finding a rhythm on offense. Oregon shut down Utah's running game (net 91 yards) and sacked quarterback Tyler Huntley four times in front of 56,154.

Oregon linebacker Troy Dye said Sunday's film session forced each player to hold himself and his teammates accountable. '

"Everybody saw what everybody was doing wrong," Oregon linebacker Troy Dye said. "Just to see that everybody has room for improvement shows you that we can't all put the blame on Braxton."

Oregon was outscored 113-31 in the previous three games. 

Saturday's victory put the Ducks (5-3, 2-4 Pac-12) one win ahead of last year's record (4-8) and a victory away from becoming bowl eligible with three games remaining, including Oregon State (1-7, 0-5) on Nov. 25. 

Saturday's win takes pressure off of Oregon to win at Washington next week or at home the following week against surging Arizona in order to become bowl eligible. Herbert, who warmed up with the team prior to Saturday's game for the first time since injuring his collarbone. Herbert will likely be back by no later than the Arizona game on Nov. 18. If so, the Ducks will have a strong chance to defeat the Wildcats and the Beavers. Heck, if the team plays like it did today it could win both without Herbert. 

Again, it all starts with team-wide accountability that must continue, along with consistent improvement. 

"We still have a lot of work to do," Dye said. 

Ducks must grow up in a hurry to avoid disaster

Ducks must grow up in a hurry to avoid disaster

Pick a disaster movie, any disaster movie.

Now picture the Oregon football team as a band of humans scrambling to figure out how to prevent the earth from coming to an end an extinction level event. Maybe it's a massive meteor hurtling toward earth. Maybe the mother of all earthquakes is about to strike. The specific disaster doesn't really matter. All that matters is that if the Ducks don’t do something drastic in a hurry, all will be lost. 

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Now downsize that hypothetical and fit it into the real world of the Ducks' football program. Oregon (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) is three losses away from not reaching a bowl game for the second consecutive season and have three very losable games hurtling their way against Utah, Washington and Arizona. Failing to reach the postseason for the second consecutive season would be a disaster for Oregon.

Missing a bowl game means that a young roster doensn't get a few extra weeks of work and that the team can't end the season on a high note against a formidable non-conference opponent, something that could help propel the team into a strong offseason. 

To help avoid this diappointment, the Ducks must grow up in a hurry and find a way to defeat Utah (4-2, 1-3) on Saturday rather than once again forcing coach Willie Taggart to take the podium following a loss to lament all of the frustrating mistakes his young team made to lose the game. That’s become old and predictable.

The Ducks have played horrible football as of late, losing their last three games by a combined score of
113-31. Yes, Oregon has been without its star quarterback, Justin Herbert (collarbone), and freshman Braxton Burmeister is struggling with the entire concept of the forward pass. But that doesn't fully explain the lopsided defeats the team has suffered at the hands of three good, but hardly great, teams in Washington State (33-10 loss), Stanford (49-7) and UCLA (31-14).

The entire Oregon team, Taggart said, is making its share of mistakes, as well. It’s just that those made by the quarterback are always the most magnified. 

To drive this point home to his team, Taggart had the Ducks watch its latest debacle - that loss at the
mediocre Bruins - as a full unit on Sunday rather than practice. Every player sat in the theater room and watched every play of what was a winnable game that went south in the second half. 

“They saw a lot of people making mistakes," Taggart said of the film session. “Even guys that were getting credit for having good games were making critical mistakes."

The goal:  “So everyone could see everybody’s mistakes and not just hear about the mistakes Braxton is making...When you hear so much that we can’t win because Justin is not here I want our guys to see that that’s not the case. We're not winning because everybody else is not doing their job."

Maybe so, but going from nearly 300 yards passing per game with Herbert to 80 places an enormous
amount of pressure on the entire team to compensate for the lack of production from the quarterback
position.”

Taggart has emphasized over and over that he just needs Burmeister to not hurt the team with turnovers. However, when running an up-tempo, no-huddle offense one had better get major production from the quarterback, otherwise the entire team will suffer. 

That all said, if the rest of the team plays better that might also help Burmeister elevate his game. He can't carry the team. The team must carry him. 

A major positive is that Taggart said he hasn't seen evidence of the team faltering psychologically, but
instead they are fighting through the storm.

“Our guys have been able to bounce back and keep a good attitude," he said. "That's been gratifying for
myself. They are looking to find a way to get back into the win column."

Taggart said that the Ducks try to battle through four points of emphasis: 1) public perception, 2), fatigue, 3) division from within and 4) us versus them.

"We just have to fight these things little harder when faced with adversity," he said.

If they don’t start winning some of those fights on Saturday, the Ducks could be home for the holidays and that wouldn't be good for anyone within the program.

Oregon faces virtual must-win against struggling Utah

Oregon faces virtual must-win against struggling Utah

Oregon reaching a bowl game appeared to be a virtual given not too long ago. Three blowout losses later and the Ducks find their postseason hopes leaning against the ropes with reality rearing back to deliver a knockout blow.

The Ducks will host Utah on Saturday in what should be considered all but a must-win for Oregon, which faces a tough schedule down the stretch.

UO coach Willie Taggart, when asked following his team's 31-14 loss at UCLA on Saturday how important it would be for these young Ducks (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) to gain the experience that comes with playing in a bowl game, said he couldn't even consider such things at the moment. 

“We’re not thinking about bowl right now,” Taggart said. “We need to get another win...If we get another win then we’ll start thinking about those other things. But it’s really, really important now that we find a way to win a ball game.

Failing to reach a bowl game this season should be viewed as a colossal disaster. Despite Oregon going 4-8 last year, plenty of reasons existed to expect the Ducks to win at least six games in 2017. Starting out 4-1 then failing to capture two additional victories over seven remaining contests would certainly be a bad look for Taggart and the program, even when factoring in the loss of sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert (collarbone), who has missed the team's last three games. His return date is unknown. 

Surely Oregon should have been expected to scratch out two more wins with anyone at quarterback. 

Oregon's margin for error to reach 6-6 and become bowl eligible is virtually zero with Utah visiting Autzen on Saturday. As it stands right now, Oregon has one seemingly very winnable game remaining and that's the Civil War on Nov. 25 at home to close the regular season against Oregon State (1-6, 0-4). 

The Ducks also have one seemingly guaranteed loss, with or without Herbert, and that's Nov. 4 at 12 Washington (6-1, 3-1).

If those two games turn out as most of the world would expect them to, the Ducks would need to get a win against either the Utes or surging Arizona on Nov. 11 to reach six victories.

Herbert should return no later than Nov. 11. His injury was said to keep him out 4-to-6 weeks. This Saturday would be the fourth week since the injury occurred Sept. 30 against California. The Arizona game happens seven weeks out. But defeating the Wildcats would be anything but a given even with Herbert and that game looks now like a sure loss if he were not to play.

Arizona sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate has been lighting up the Pac-12 since becoming the Wildcats' starter on Oct. 7.  Tate has amassed 694 yards rushing in three starts and 468 passing with 11 total touchdowns. Arizona has won all three of his starts while averaging 46.3 points per game. 

He has had the opposite impact on his team that Oregon freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister has had on his since replacing Herbert. The Ducks have scored 31 points in three games with Burmeister at quarterback. Simply math would indicate that UO would have a tough time defeating Arizona and Tate without Herbert. 

Even with Herbert, expecting him to out-duel Tate after sitting out seven weeks would be foolish. Herbert could help UO put up numbers but Arizona should be expected to also score a lot of points making the outcome very much in doubt. 

Consequently, it's imperative that the Ducks win over Utah in order to ease the pressure of having to take down Tate and Arizona. 

Believe it or not, the Ducks have a chance to do so even if Burmeister makes his fourth start. Utah is reeling at the moment having lost three consecutive games. The Utes' offense is a mess, which is exactly what the Ducks need to see. If Utah can be held to under 27 points it is possible that Burmeister makes enough progress to lift the Ducks to a close win. 

What Oregon truly needs is for Herbert to make a miraculous recovery and play on Saturday. Either way, the Ducks had better approach this game with a do-or-die mentality.

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Oregon vs. Utah

When: 2:45 p.m., Saturday, Autzen Stadium. 

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks. 

Betting line: Utah minus 3 1/2.

Records: Ducks (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12), Utah (4-3, 1-3).

Last week: Arizona won 45-44 in overtime at California (4-4, 1-4). Oregon lost 31-14 at UCLA (4-3, 2-3). 

Coaches: Ducks' Willie Taggart (44-49, 4-4 at Oregon); Utah's Kyle Whittingham (108-53).

Fear factor (five-point scale): 5. Utah has lost three consecutive games to Stanford, at USC and home against ASU. The offense has fallen on hard times while the defense went from allowing 19 points per game through the first four contests to giving up a still solid 27.0.

Oregon, these days, can accommodate such numbers with an offense that has scored 31 points over the last three games. One could very easily see Utah winning this game 24-17. 

Preliminary pick (waiting on Herbert news): Oregon 27, Utah 20. Oregon will be home against a mediocre opponent that is struggling on offense. That, and a couple more plays from Burmeister than usual, will be enough to help the Ducks get that all important fifth victory. Then Taggart can start talking about how important it would be for his team to appear in a bowl game. 

Taggart unconcerned with Darren Carrington Jr.'s return

Taggart unconcerned with Darren Carrington Jr.'s return

Former Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington Jr. will return to Autzen Stadium on Saturday when the Ducks host Utah.

That reality got me thinking: How incredulous would Carrington, a true diva receiver, be right now had he spent the past three weeks playing for Oregon (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) with struggling freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister failing to get him the ball?  It certainly would have been entertaining to watch Carrington get open over and over only to end up throwing his arms around in frustration over not being targeted by Burmeister, who has passed for 246 yards in three starts. 

Remember, Carrington caught passes from Marcus Mariota, Vernon Adams Jr. and Justin Herbert. Carrington would have lost his mind under these circumstances. 

Unfortunately, we were denied such entertainment when UO coach Willie Taggart Jr. dismissed Carrington from the team over the summer following a DUII arrest.  Carrington will have his chance to exact a little revenge on the Ducks, who desperately need to win in order to improve their bowl chances. But Taggart, when asked how his team would prepare for Carrington, said his struggling team has far more pressing issues to contend with. 

"Go to practice, prepare well, get ready to go out and try to play our best ball game to try to win," Taggart said. "I don't think we're going in saying we've got to stop Darren Carrington. We've got to go and play better than what we've played. It doesn't matter who is on that other side of the ball."

Taggart's decision to remove Carrington from the team remains a sound one. The move sent a message to the rest of UO's roster that Taggart would not tolerate repeat disciplinary problems from players. The decision, that took weeks to reach following Carrington's arrest, also put a large hole in the Ducks' receiving corps. Maybe most importantly, Taggart's decision was probably the best thing for Carrington. He needed a shot in the gut to let him know that his talents won't alone carry him to success. Oregon would survive with him. The NFL could survive without him.

Carrington appears to have gotten the message and is thriving for Utah (4-3, 1-3). Carrington has caught 45 passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns. He leads the Pac-12 with 92.7 receiving yards per game and his 6.4 receptions per game rank fourth.

Could Carrington have helped Oregon? Yes. Of course. But only if he had avoided being a distraction, something he failed to do in three seasons with the Ducks.  A focused and discipline Carrington would help any team. But he wouldn't have helped Oregon these past three weeks without a viable quarterback to get him the ball. 

Carrington should be thankful that Taggart gave him the boot and even more thankful that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham gave him a chance. 

The hope here is that all of the turmoil that Carrington has created and experienced leads to him maturing and having a strong NFL career. 

Utah players welcome former Oregon WR Darren Carrington Jr.

Utah players welcome former Oregon WR Darren Carrington Jr.

HOLLYWOOD, Cal. - Utah defensive tackle Filipo Mokofisi has a message for new Utes' wide receiver Darren Carrington Jr.:

The whole thing about him catching that 17-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with two seconds remaining during Oregon's 30-28 upset win last season at Rice Eccles-Stadium - don't go there. 

"I'm excited to get him," Mokofisi said Thursday during Pac-12 Media Days. Then, with a smile, he added: "Obviously that (touchdown play) hurt. And he can't talk about it. At all. I haven't met him yet, but Darren, if you're watching, you can't talk about it at all."

Carrington could make up for that play by making similar plays for the Utes this season. He is reportedly in the process of transferring to Utah after Oregon coach Willie Taggart dismissed him from the Ducks following a DUII arrest on July 1. 

Losing Carrington, who caught 112 career passes for 1,919 yards and 15 touchdowns during his career at Oregon and would have been the Ducks' No. 1 receiver this season, will hurt the Ducks' receiver depth. 

Utah is willing to take the chance that Carrington can put his checkered past behind him for four months, motivated by the fact that his NFL Draft stock has been sinking like a rock since he tested positive for marijuana prior to the 2015 national championship game, leading to a six-game suspension. 

A strong season for Carrington could help him recoup some of the future NFL money he has undoubtedly squandered with his antics. Such a performance could also help Utah, which will play at Oregon on Oct. 28. 

"We're all about second chances," Mokofisi. "We've had a lot of players in the past that have that. So, I feel like we'll be fine."

"I think we will do a great job embracing him as a player and as a person," Utah offensive tackle Salesi Uhatafe added. 

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said accepting Carrington onto his team wasn't an easy decision. 

"It's always a tough decision when you're talking about a player that you're going to add to your program that potentially has a checkered past," he said. "You have to make a decision based on all the information you can gather. Based on the athlete's attitude. You know, is he remorseful? Does he understand that he's done some stupid things and ready to put it behind him and move on? There is so much that goes into it. It's a judgment call. You're not always right. But I feel in this case it was the right thing to do to give Darren another opportunity."

According to Whittingham, Carrington is on campus but not yet cleared to practice as he goes through the transfer process. Once completed, Whittingham said Carrington would be on a "short leash."

"He's a terrific talent on the field," Whittingham said. "One of the common denominators that came back from all the people I talked to about Darren was his fierce, competitive drive on the field, on the practice field. He's just a guy that is the ultimate competitor. Brings a toughness to that receiver position that will help us out."

Whittingham said he spent a lot of time talking to Carrington and his parents about what he must do to succeed at Utah. 

"You know, it was very apparent that he'll be the first to admit that he's done some dumb things, made some bad decisions," Whittingham said. "But he's got the right attitude right now. He's bound and determined to put this behind him, move forward. Try to have a successful senior year, and then hopefully have a chance to move on to the next level."

No. 7 Oregon electrifies Utah... and not just by the uniforms...Ducks cruise to 79-61 win

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No. 7 Oregon electrifies Utah... and not just by the uniforms...Ducks cruise to 79-61 win

How Oregon won: The No. 7 Ducks started the game off the same as the color of their uniforms: energized. Oregon's offense caught Utah sleeping under the basket and took advantage of that space due to an injured Utah forward Kyle Kuzma, who was out for tonight's game due to an ankle sprain. The Ducks' ball movement improved thanks to freshman guard Payton Pritchard dishing out seven assists and finding the hot hands of sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, junior forward Dillon Brooks, and junior forward Jordan Bell. Oregon (23-4, 12-2 Pac-12) rolled to a 79-61 victory over the Utes (17-9, 8-6 Pac-12) and earned its 41st straight home win.

"Well I thought, defensively, our activity was pretty good for the most part," said Oregon coach Dana Altman following the game. "We did hold them to 38 percent and if you take nine putbacks off that then we really did play well defensively.... 18 assists I though was pretty good, we had too many turnovers, we got sloppy, we left our feet a lot... but all in all it was a good win. And now we got a quick turn around, we play at noon on Saturday, so got to put this one behind us pretty quick and get ready for the next one."

Although Oregon won the rebounding battle 38 to 31, the Utes grabbed 14 offensive rebounds leading to 19 second-chance points. Yikes. This was even without 6-foot-9 forward Kuzma in the game. Oregon will have to clean this up with only one home game and three away games left before the Pac-12 Tournament. 

"That was a big disappointment," said Altman. "19 to 3 second chance points, usually with a number like that you don't win the game. With Colorado and Cal coming up, two best offensive rebounding teams in the league, very disappointing stat."

Defensively, besides the rebounding, Oregon looked solid and grabbed 31 defensive rebounds that lead to 14 fast break points. Bell and senior forward Chris Boucher showed why they are two of the nation's leading shot-blockers with eight of the team's 10 blocks. When the Ducks cause turnovers and push the tempo, this is where Oregon basketball thrives.    

What it means: In the last week alone, Oregon has struggle to maintain a lead. Against UCLA, the Ducks had a 19-point lead that slowly diminished. Not tonight. Oregon jumped to a quick 16-point lead at half and kept it this time. However, the Ducks did commit 13 turnovers and will need to clean this up. Thank goodness Utah had a poor night shooting from the field at just 38 percent.

Key sequence: Out of the half and with a 16-point lead, the Ducks continued to control the pace and rhythm of the game. They didn't take their foot off the gas once they had a double digit lead. With the score 41-25 at half, Oregon's 16-point lead quickly jumped to a 20-plus and stayed there until the end.  

High flying Ducks: Dorsey found his shot early and often to finish with 16 points on six-of-eleven shooting from the field. Brooks finished with 20 points on nine-for-13 shooting and another posterizing dunk. Bell finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks.  

Fowl play: It was a solid defensive effort with minimal fouling, but Dorsey and junior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams finished with three fouls each.

Up next: Oregon hosts Colorado (16-11, 6-8 Pac-12) at noon on Saturday. The Ducks lost  74-65 at Colorado on Jan. 28.

Boucher's mom in attendance for first time EVER. Preview: No. 7 Oregon vs. Utah

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Boucher's mom in attendance for first time EVER. Preview: No. 7 Oregon vs. Utah

It’s senior week down here in Eugene, OR and the last week playing in front of Matthew Knight Arena Ducks fans for forward Chris Boucher, guard Dylan Ennis, and guard Charlie Noebel. How will the Ducks respond to such an emotional time? We’ll find out at 6:05 p.m. tomorrow evening as No. 7 Oregon (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12) hosts Utah (17-8, 8-5 Pac-12).

“Well they’re still scoring a lot of points,” said Oregon coach Dana Altman. “Very good offensive team and really hurt us with the dribble-penetration so we’ll have to do a lot better job there. Very explosive team.”

It’s that time of the year to play teams twice.

Let’s rewind three weeks to Thursday, January 26th. Oregon came away with a 73-67 victory over the Utes in Salt Lake City. Although Oregon got the win, Utah’s big men, junior’s David Collette and Kyle Kuzma, had quite the impact under the basket. Kuzma nearly recorded a double-double finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds. He also went two-of-four from behind the arc, so he isn’t afraid to shoot the deep ball when given good looks. 

Boucher and Bell will have their hands full containing both Collette and Kuzma. However, Boucher will have some added energy because this will be the first game EVER that his mom will be in attendance for one of his basketball games. 

“I’m going to be happy to be capable to look at her, that’s really going to help me out,” said Boucher. “But I’m going to play the same way and bring what I have to do for the team.”

The Ducks will also seek to extend their home-win streak to 41 games.

A quick look at the game:

No. 7 Oregon vs. Utah

Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR

When: 6:05 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Records: Ducks (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12), Utes (17-8, 8-5 Pac-12). 

Last outings: The Ducks ended their road trip splitting the L.A. schools with a 81-70 win over the USC Trojans. Utah routed Washington at home 85-61. 

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (176-68 at Oregon, 586-311 Division I). Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak (112-81 at Utah, 154-101 overall). 

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (13.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, .395 3PT%), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (10.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .392 3PT%), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (8.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (14.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, .410 3PT%), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (12.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg).

Key Utes: F David Collette, 6-10, Jr., (14.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), G Devon Daniels, 6-5, Fr., (10.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg), F Kyle Kuzma, 6-9, Jr., (15.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg), G Lorenzo Bonam, 6-4, Sr., (13.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg).

Notes: Jordan Bell is the only player in the Pac-12 ranked in the top 10 in rebounds (9th), blocks (4th) and steals (9th). He is also second in the league in fi eld goal percentage (.614)…The last three seasons, the Ducks are undefeated (17-0) after Valentines’ Day…The Ducks lead the nation at 6.9 blocks per game, and also lead the nation in total blocks with 179. Individually, Chris Boucher is 13th nationally in blocks per game (2.7), with Jordan Bell 38th (2.1 bpg).

No. 10 Oregon extends win streak, escapes with 73-67 win over Utah

No. 10 Oregon extends win streak, escapes with 73-67 win over Utah

How Oregon won: It was a scrappy game from start to finish with multiple adjustments along the way before the Ducks won 73-67 on the road.

Oregon did most of its damage in the paint. The Ducks struggled from behind the arc and shot just 28 percent on five-of-18 shooting from three-point range. Oregon was forced to search for another answer and found it in junior forwards Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks. When the pick-and-roll is executed correctly, it's difficult to stop. Brooks and Bell executed the pick-and-roll to near perfection which lead to several of Bell's statement dunks.   

However, this game was far from comfortable. The Utes, helped by their energized fans, came to play and put up a fight for all 40-minutes. Utah showed why it had only lost two games and although was unranked, is still dangerous. As this one came down to the wire, the Ducks did not finish well. Oregon had a lead of 13 points in the final eight minutes and slowly let up on the gas pedal. Utah (14-6, 5-3 Pac-12)came crawling back and was within four points with under two minutes to go.

But the No. 10 Ducks (19-2, 8-0) escaped with the win to extend their winning streak to 17.

What it means: Utah definitely had its eye on Oregon. The Utes fans were rowdy, loud, and tried to get into the Ducks' collective heads, especially Brooks. It may have worked too. Oregon will have to finish much more efficiently than tonight. The Ducks still have to play on the road at other hostile environments such as UCLA and USC, against teams Oregon has already defeated this season.   

Key sequence: Oregon made good adjustments out of halftime. At the 14:49 mark, Bell made his presence known with another one of his remarkable dunks. Brooks hit him on a pick and roll with no defense in his way. This gave Oregon a 44-41 lead before hot-handed junior guard Casey Benson hit a three-pointer to extend the Ducks' lead to 47-41. A pair of Oregon free throws later and yet another Bell-to-Brooks pick-and-roll dunk gave Oregon a 52-43 lead with eleven minutes left in the game. The Ducks rode this cushion, but only temporarily.

High flying Ducks: Jordan Bell seemingly put on his own dunk contest to finish with 15 points. Despite missing one game due to a left foot sprain, Brooks was back in typical Brooks fashion. Brooks did not look limited in the slightest and finished with 19 points on 7 of 15 from the field. Senior guard Dylan Ennis also had a nice game attacking and finishing at the rim with 13 points and five rebounds.

Fowl play: Freshman guard Payton Pritchard picked up his third foul about two minutes into the second half and was sent to the bench. Senior Chris Boucher finished with four fouls, but pulled down seven rebounds.  

Up next: Oregon continues its road trip at Colorado (11-10, 1-7 Pac-12) at 6:30 p.m.. Saturday.

Preview: No. 10 Oregon at Utah

Preview: No. 10 Oregon at Utah

Could this be No. 10 Oregon’s biggest road test so far this season? The Ducks (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) face an unranked but still dangerous Utah team (14-5, 5-2 Pac-12) in Salt Lake City tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The two Pac-12 teams that Utah has lost to this season are currently in the top ten national rankings and have been by a margin of 10 points or less: at No. 7 Arizona (66-56) and at home to No. 8 UCLA (83-82). 

Ducks sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey said this week, “They [Utah] played UCLA very hard. They probably figured they could’ve won that game if they would’ve boxed out at the end, but they’re definitely going to look at us as one of those games they need to probably get into March Madness or later in the season that will help them.”

A question that remains is the status of junior forward Dillon Brooks, who exited the game just before halftime against California last Thursday, with a sprained left foot.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Oregon coach Dana Altman on the status of Brooks. “It will be a game-time decision. He didn’t do anything yesterday [Monday], he’ll do some shooting and some warming up today I think is what the trainer said [Tuesday]…”

A quick look at the game:

No. 10 Oregon vs. Utah

Where: Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. 

When: 7:37 p.m., Thursday January 26, 2017.

TV: FS1. 

Records: Ducks (18-2 overall, 7-0 Pac-12), Utes (14-5, 5-2 Pac-12). 

Last outings: Oregon picked up its 16 win in a row at home against Stanford last Saturday, 69-52. Utah routed Washington 94-72 in Seattle last Saturday.

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (172-66 at Oregon, 582-309 Division I). Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak (82-66 at Utah, 31-69 with NBA Milwaukee Bucks from 2006-2008).

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .392 3FG pct.), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (8.0 ppg, 3.6 apg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (11.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.2 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (13.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (13.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.9 bpg).

Key Utes: G Lorenzo Bonam, 6-4, Sr. (career-high 24 points vs. Washington), F Devon Daniels, 6-5, Fr., (11.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg), F David Collette, 6-10, Jr. (14.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg), G Sedrick Barefield, 6-2, So., (11.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg).

Notes: The Ducks are on a current 16-game win streak, which breaks the program record… Utah’s Bonam and Daniels coming off career-high games vs. Washington…Oregon has defeated six consecutive Pac-12 opponents by an average of 24.3 points per game…The Ducks have held 18-of-20 opponents this season to under 70 points…Oregon also leads the nation at 7.7 blocks per game (Boucher 2.9 bpg, Bell 2.2 bpg).

Game prediction: Oregon limps into No. 11 Utah looking for something to cling to

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Game prediction: Oregon limps into No. 11 Utah looking for something to cling to

What does Oregon get for its troubles following a 52-27 loss last week at home against Stanford?: A road game against a better version of the Cardinal. 

The Ducks play at No. 11 Utah Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah, and on paper have zero chance to win, or even remain close. So much so that the 14-point spread appears to be an insult to Utah by about 10 points. 

Oregon (3-7, 1-6 Pac-12) will roll into Utah (8-2, 5-2) with the second-worst rushing defense in the Pac-12 at 255.4 yards allowed per game to face the hottest rushing attack in the conference. 

"Same thing as last week, really," Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke said. "You've got to stop the run. There's no doubt about it."

Uh oh!

Oregon hasn't stopped the run all season. Not even against UC Davis and Virginia in what seems like ions ago. Stanford's Christian McCaffrey ran wild last week, scoring three touchdowns as the Cardinal, owners of the worst offense in the conference, averaging 340 yards per game, put up 540 yards of total offense on the Ducks. 

Utah, averaging 433.7 yards per game is better on offense than Stanford thanks to the amazing performances of running back Joe Williams. He "retired" for four games to start the season only to be talked back into playing. Since his return, Williams has averaged 216 total yards and 156.5 yards rushing per game. He has gained 939 rushing yards on 7.0 yards per carry.  

“He's maybe the most explosive and the fastest of any of the backs we've had here as far as a home run-type back that can go the distance from anywhere on the field,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters this week.

To make matters worse for Oregon, Williams runs behind a veteran offensive line. 

"They are physical upfront," Hoke said. "Very senior-oriented offensive line with three guys up there that have played a lot of football."

The Ducks are the opposite with one senior starting on a young defense that has rotated through 14 defensive linemen this season. 

"We had a good week of practice, same thing we did the week before," Hoke said. "Our guys have come out and fought, and been physical every time we go on the field."

That intensity has not translated into strong performances on game days. Saturday will likely be no different. 

A quick look at Utah:

When: 11 a.m., Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah.

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks. 

Betting line: Utah by 14.

Records: Oregon (3-7, 1-6 Pac-12), Utah (8-2, 5-2). 

Coaches: Oregon's Mark Helfrich (36-15); Utah's Kyle Whittingham (103-48). 

Last week: Oregon lost 52-27 to Stanford (7-3, 5-3). Utah won 49-26 at Arizona State (5-5, 2-5). 

Utes' impact players: Utah's passing game is its weakness.

Quarterback Troy Williams isn't asked to throw much but when he does he has been effective, throwing 13 touchdown passes with five interceptions. Williams' 54.9 completion percentage is something Oregon could take advantage of if the Ducks avoid allowing big plays in the passing game. 

That means stopping senior wide receiver Tim Patrick, who has scored five touchdowns and is averaging 17.1 yards per reception. 

On defense, Utah will get after the quarterback. The Utes lead the conference with 35 sacks. Senior defensive end Hunter Dimick leads the conference with 12. Senior defensive end Pita Taumoepenu has seven. 

Fear factor (five-point scale): 5-plus. This could get ugly. If Utah, allowing just 23 points per game, puts the clamps on Herbert the Ducks will be dead and buried. 

Nothing we've seen this season should lead anyone to believe Oregon will hold Utah's offense in check. The Ducks could get hot on offense and score enough to make things interesting. But this is a Utes team that has scored 125 points over their last three games, and two weeks ago narrowly lost 31-24 to No. 7 Washington, a team that won 70-21 at Oregon. 

Prediction: Utah 47, Oregon 24. The Ducks appeared demoralized against Stanford. UO is simply too young and too banged up on defense, too young along the offensive line with four redshirt freshmen, have too many off-field distractions (discipline issues) and nothing to play for.