LAS VEGAS – Hours before tipoff of Oregon’s Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal, Oregon announced the extension of coach Dana Altman’s contract. Oregon’s contract with Altman, one of six active head coaches in Division I with a current streak of at least 22 consecutive winning seasons, runs through the 2025-26 season.
Good timing for the announcement, it seemed. Turns out, it was great timing.
With Phil and Penny Knight watching court side and big dance hopes on the line, the Ducks advanced to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal game for the sixth time out of eight seasons. Oregon upset third-seeded Utah, 66-54, and is now 5-0 against Utah in the Pac-12 tournament.
The victory is Altman’s 17th Pac-12 Tournament win, tying Arizona’s Sean Miller for the most. The Ducks (21-12, 10-8 Pac-12) are riding a six-game winning streak and advance to play second-seeded Arizona State on Friday at 8:30pm.
"I'm excited, my family is excited, we've enjoyed our nine years at Oregon" Altman said. " We want to build something special.... it's a special place".
Before mounting their comeback, the Ducks fell to a six-point halftime deficit. Oregon could not get organized on offense, lacked ball movement and shot 27.6 percent from the field.
On a hot streak of holding the last six opponents to less than 62 points, the Ducks’ aggressive defensive play continued. Oregon held Utah, the top shooting team in the conference, to 34 percent from the field and outscored them in the paint, 36 to 30.
Despite the physical game, Oregon did not attempt a free throw the entire first half.
A huge part of Oregon’s lock down defense came from Francis Okoro, who tied the tournament record with six blocked shots in a game. Payton Pritchard and Louis King sparked the Ducks’ comeback on offense, each scoring 20 points.
The Ducks got off to a great second half start. Oregon forced a few turnovers, baffling the Utes with the press and Pritchard grabbed the momentum with back-to-back layups to tie the game. Oregon outscored Utah, 48-30 in the second half.
"Obviously this team is capable of a lot, which we showed in the second half," Pritchard said. "That's how we gotta bring it (against ASU), starting from the tip".
As the Ducks heated up, so did Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who received a technical foul for slapping a cup off the scorer’s table after a foul call
Utah’s 16 free throw points kept it in the game, but could not overcome going 2-of-23 from beyond the arc.
Next up, Arizona State (22-9, 12-6). Oregon lost to ASU in Tempe in January but then crushed the Sun Devils at home, a month later. ASU is coming off of a 83-72 victory over UCLA.
Altman is five wins away from becoming Oregon’s all-time winningest head basketball coach. He has a chance to take one step closer to that honor, the Pac-12 Tournament crown and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.