LAS VEGAS – Sin City loves flashy. All the lights, glittering jewelry, luxury vehicles and stylish wardrobes on the Las Vegas Strip scream flashy.
The Oregon Ducks basketball team is a good fit on the Strip. The Ducks have flashy players, wear flashy uniforms – electric banana yellow is flashy, right? – and operate a flashy offense. More importantly, they have a flashy trophy to take back to Eugene.
One year after an embarrassing 28-point loss to Arizona in the championship game of the Pac-12 Conference tournament, the eighth-ranked Ducks manhandled No. 12 Utah 88-57 in Saturday night’s title game.
“It’s humbling,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.
“We played really well . . . (and) obviously, Utah just had an off-night,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
The outcome was never in doubt after Oregon snapped a 13-13 tie midway through the first half with an 18-3 run. The Utes made 13 of their 20 turnovers in the first half.
“We didn’t have the energy or the focus to come back from those easy baskets that we gave them,” Utah forward Jakob Poeltl said.
Oregon senior forward Elgin Cook was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. He was joined on the all-tournament team by three teammates: senior forward Chris Boucher, sophomore forward Dillon Brooks and freshman guard Tyler Dorsey. Poeltl and California forward Ivan Rabb rounded out the team.
Both teams were playing a third game in as many nights, and both were pushed to overtime Friday evening. The top-seeded Ducks and second-seeded Utes both started a bit sluggishly, but the Ducks soon came to life. As for the Utes . . .
“We were tired,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s no excuse, because they were just as tired.”
“I felt great, feeding off my teammates’ energy and positive attitudes,” Cook said.
The Ducks (28-6) earned the Pac-12’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, and Utah (26-8) also will advance. The 68-team tournament field will be announced Sunday from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on CBS..
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Ducks pegged as a No. 2 seed and opening Friday against No. 15 seed Weber State (26-8) in Spokane.
The Ducks have won eight in a row, and they snapped Utah’s nine-game win streak. The 31-point margin of victory was one shy of the tournament record, but it did erase Oregon’s 2015 loss as the most lopsided in a championship game.
Dorsey led four Oregon players in double figures with 23 points, and he also had a game-high nine rebounds. Poeltl, the only Ute to score in double figures, had 13 points and a game-high six turnovers.
Dana Altman is a really good coach.