Utah-Oregon Preview (Feb 16, 2017)
EUGENE, Ore. -- Seventh-ranked Oregon will try to finish off a historic home season this week.
The Ducks (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12) are 15-0 at home as they look to complete a second straight unbeaten home schedule. Oregon went 18-0 at Matthew Knight Arena last season for just the fifth spotless season at home in school history and the first since 2001-02.
The last challenges come from Utah on Thursday night followed by Colorado on Saturday afternoon.
Oregon brings the nation's longest home winning streak, 40 in a row, into the meeting with the Utes (17-8, 8-5). The fans are flocking to the arena with an average attendance of 9,565, the school's highest figure since 1978-79.
The Ducks fell out of first place in the Pac-12 with an 82-79 loss to UCLA last Thursday, but they bounced back to defeat USC 81-70 on Saturday to improve to stay one game back of Arizona.
Oregon coach Dana Altman adjusted his lineup after using just seven players in the loss to the Bruins, when he acknowledged his team looked worn out as it blew a 13-point lead in the final 12 minutes. He went with a nine-man rotation against the Trojans and played his reserves for 55 minutes after using them for 39 minutes against the Bruins.
"I did a better job, I didn't do a good job against USC," Altman said of not using any player for more than 33 minutes Saturday. "We didn't have anyone get up to the 38- or 39-minute mark. I gave them more rest because I thought we needed it."
Altman used all nine of his available scholarship players, including 6-foot-11 junior Kavell Bigby-Williams and 6-10 junior Roman Sorkin, who did not play against UCLA.
Dillon Brooks, who leads the Ducks with 14.9 points per game, scored 21 in the win over USC, but he played just 26 minutes before fouling out. Oregon led by three when Brooks fouled out with just under four minutes to play, then outscored the Trojans 13-5 with him on the bench.
"We know Dillon is our first offensive option, but when he went out, we found a way to finish the game out," Oregon junior forward Jordan Bell said.
Bell had the best two rebounding games last weekend near his hometown of Long Beach, Calif. After grabbing a career-high 15 boards against UCLA, he added 14 against USC and was nominated for conference player of the week.
"I have been focused on rebounding," said Bell, who ranks ninth in the conference at 8.1 rebounds per game. "Obviously, we have enough scoring going on, so I don't need to worry about that."
The Ducks have five players averaging in double figures, including guard Tyler Dorsey, who had 19 in both games last week to raise his average to 13.1. Center Chris Boucher averages 12.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game off the bench, while senior guard Dylan Ennis averages 10.9 points per game.
Bell is scoring a career-high 10.8 points while ranking second in the conference in field-goal shooting at 61.4 percent.
Utah is tied for fifth in the conference after sweeping Washington State and Washington last week. The Utes need to move up a spot to get one of four byes in the first-round of the Pac-12 tournament.
"The focus is on Oregon, first and foremost, but that's something that's being talked about a little bit -- trying to earn a first-round bye," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak told the Salt Lake Tribune. "Even by the end of this weekend, we'll probably have a better idea if that's an attainable goal or not. Hopefully it is."
Junior forward Kyle Kuzma leads the team with averages of 15.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, while junior David Collette is second at 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. Senior guard Lorenzo Bonam is averaging 13.0 points and 3.0 assists, while freshman Devon Daniels scores 10.6 points per game.
The Utes likely need a few victories to play their way into the NCAA Tournament, and a win over a top-10 team would be a good start. The Ducks beat Utah 73-67 last month in Salt Lake City.