Oregon just two wins away from the big dance!
Kenny Wooten is gonna block! Kenny Wooten is gonna block!
It was deja vu all over again. No. 6 Oregon had clawed its way back to take a two point lead in the final minute over the No. 3 Utah Utes in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament. One more stop to punch a ticket into the semifinals. And that is exactly what the Ducks got. On back-to-back nights, Oregon freshman Kenny Wooten sealed the deal for the Ducks with game-saving blocks. It was his only block of the game, but it couldn't have come at a better time.
"I started getting flashbacks, same side of the court and everything," said Wooten.
Oregon coach Dana Altman said, "He waits till the last minute to get his one block. Last night he had two in the last minute and he had one tonight in the last minute... it was a big play."
The Ducks will now play No. 2 USC in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals at 8:30 PM (PT) on Friday night.
Let the seniors show you how it's done
Oregon first-year seniors MiKyle McIntosh and Elijah Brown are a force not to reckon with. Although just their first season with the Ducks, both Brown and McIntosh are staples and crucial parts to this Altman winning formula. When both these two are on, the Ducks find ways to win. Brown, a sharp-shooter on the perimeter, finished with a team-high 21 points, hitting 7-of-12 from behind the arc. McIntosh was a force down low and a big part of Oregon's 12 offensive rebounds and nine second chance points vs. Utah.
Altman said, "Down 11 with nine and a half minutes to go, guys battled back, we got some stops... I thought MiKyle did a great job of taking the ball to the basket. Elijah hit some big three's. We had some good penetration-kicks there to him and he hit some big shots."
A win is a win, no matter how ugly, right?
How are the Ducks pulling out these wins? So far in this tournament, Oregon has started off slow in each of its games, had a season-low 17 points in the first half vs. the No. 11 Washington State Cougars on Wednesday night, and are having some trouble not fouling (20 vs. WSU and 19 vs. Utah). So what is it? Well, for one, Dana Altman can sure coach a game from start to finish. Seeing where the Ducks can exploit matchups, attacking opposing players in foul trouble, game clock management, you name it. Altman has been here before and is proving it day-after-day. But he will never take the credit...
"Credit to the guys, they didn't give in to it," said Altman. "We did trail most of the night and found a way to comeback late. It's really a contribute to their competitiveness and willingness to stay with it."