Tonight at the Jon M. Huntsman Center the Utah Runnin' Utes (14-5, 5-2 Pac-12) host the No. 10 Oregon Ducks (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12). The game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. MDT and will televised on Fox Sports 1. With USC’s stunning upset of their crosstown rival UCLA last night, Utah enters tonight's game alone in third place in the Pac-12 behind Arizona and Oregon.
Since the mid season additions of guard Sedrick Barefield and forward David Collette, Utah has been one of the hottest teams in the nation. Since the start of conference play, the Runnin' Utes lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (54.1%). The offense has been red-hot the last five games, scoring 82 or more points in each of those games. The Utah defense has also been stifling in Pac-12 play as well. They went from a team that did not look like a tournament team to having a great shot at getting a bye in the Pac-12 Tournament and possibly making the NCAA Tournament thanks to strong play from junior forward Kyle Kuzma, freshman guard Devon Daniels, Barefield, and Collette.
The Ducks come into the Huntsman with a perfect conference record. They completed a sweep of the Bay Area schools at home last week. Utah’s lone win against Oregon as a Pac-12 team came in Salt Lake City in 2013 when the Runnin’ Utes beat the Ducks 72-62. It is Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak’s lone win over Oregon head coach Dana Altman, the back-to-back reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
The Runnin' Utes have lost seven straight games to the Ducks. They fell to the Ducks three times last season, including an 88-57 drubbing in the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament championship game. Utah is actually favored in the game by one point. The Ducks have suffered their only two losses this season away from home, falling at Baylor and to Georgetown in the Maui Jim Invitational.
Each team could be without a top player. For Utah, Collette’s status is unknown as Krystkowiak has not said if he will play. He suffered a concussion before the start of Pac-12 play, and he has been dealing with lingering symptoms, causing him to miss the games against the Washington schools. Oregon could also be without leading scorer forward Dillon Brooks, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last season. Brooks suffered a sprained ankle early in the game against Cal last weekend and missed the game against Stanford. He is out of his walking boot but remains a game-time decision for the Ducks. Even if Brooks cannot go, the Ducks have plenty of other weapons they can turn to. This is the first of many chess matches between these two coaches in this huge Pac-12 showdown.
If the Runnin’ Utes can pull the upset tonight, Oregon will be the sixth top 10 team to go down this week. Since Tuesday, numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 have all lost, many on the road. If Utah pulls out a win tonight, it would be a huge boost to their RPI and tournament resume.