The controversial Pac-12 Player of the Year award is no longer a controversy. Oregon beat the Runnin' Utes at the buzzer on Joseph Young's three-pointer, 67-64. Young finished with a game-high 25 points on 50 percent shooting (8-of-16 from the field, 6-of-6 from the free throw line).
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>You already know what the <a href="https://twitter.com/iShares">@ishares</a> by <a href="https://twitter.com/blackrock">@blackrock</a> Play of the Game is. Watch it over and over. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/pac12hoops?src=hash">#pac12hoops</a> <a href="http://t.co/JokJRGlH1h">http://t.co/JokJRGlH1h</a></p>— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) <a href="https://twitter.com/Pac12Networks/status/576623298554941440">March 14, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
All Pac-12 guard Delon Wright finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block. Wright drove to the basket into Oregon's Bell and drew a foul with 7.2 seconds and the Utes down by two. The senior guard hit both free throws to tie the game up at 64, with just one possession left.
But it was Wright's defense (or lack thereof) on the final play that proved who was the league POY. Wright could have picked up Young full court, forcing the guard to make a play under duress, but he backed off to mid-court, giving Young a running start on his three-pointer and even dropped below the high ball screen, leaving center Jakob Poeltl one-on-one with one of the leading scorers in the Pac-12. Game over.
Junior guard Brandon Taylor led the Utes with 24 points on 6-of-9 from downtown. Taylor was en fuego for much of the game but also committed four turnovers in the first half, which stalled Utah's offense. He cleaned up the turnovers in the second, adding no more in the final frame.
Oregon got three players in double figures, with Dillon Brooks (14) and Elgin Cook (13) joining their leader, Young. On the other side of the court, however, the Utes had just Taylor and Wright. Jordan Loveridge, fresh off an 18 point, eight rebound, five assist game, was almost Missing In Action. The junior forward tallied zero points (0-of-7 from the field, 0-of-5 from deep), seven rebounds. Freshman Brekkott Chapman started his second straight game but put more fouls (4) on the scorers sheet than points (2) or rebounds (3). Dakarai Tucker added nine points, but went 1-of-4 from behind the three-point arc, which was ironic as early in the game it seemed like anyone with a pulse could hit a three-pointer.
Another story of the game was efficiency at the charity stripe. Utah shot seven more free throws than the Ducks, but made just 63.2 percent (12-of-19). Oregon, however, drilled 10-of-12 from the line. One night after hitting 6-of-8 free throws, Poeltl missed 5-of-8. Wright also missed two straight, including the front end of a one and one.
Oregon beat Utah to loose balls. Oregon beat Utah to critical rebounds. Oregon made plays. Oregon made their free throws. Utah backed off when they needed to step up.
With the loss, Utah drops to 24-8 overall, never having reached the conference tournament finals. Oregon advances to face Arizona tomorrow, and the Utes will have to wait until Selection Sunday to see where they'll wind up. Utah fans dreams of a two or three seed are long since in the rear view mirror, and some recent projections have them winding up in that dangerous 5-12 game. As fans may recall, the last time Utah was a five seed, they lost to an Arizona team who was magically seeded 12th.