LAS VEGAS (AP) Chris Boucher had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 8 Oregon withstood a late flurry to hold off Washington 83-77 in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals Thursday.
Top-seeded Oregon (26-6) built an 11-point lead midway through the second half, but Andrew Andrews brought the Huskies back with a quick scoring flurry. The senior guard scored 10 of his 19 points during the run, helping eighth-seeded Washington (18-14) pull within two late.
The Ducks held, though, hitting four free throws in the final 33 seconds to earn a spot in Friday night’s semifinals against No. 15 Arizona or Colorado.
Elgin Cook scored 19 points, Tyler Dorsey 17 and Dillon Brooks added 15 for the Ducks.
Marques Chriss scored 19 points for the Huskies.
The Ducks closed the regular season strong, winning their final five games for their first conference title since 2002. One of those finishing wins was against Washington on Feb. 28, when Cook scored 26 points in the 86-73 victory.
The Huskies put a dent in their NCAA Tournament hopes by limping to the finish, but kept a glimmer of hope alive with a rout over Stanford in the tournament’s opening round.
Washington got off to fast start against the Cardinal and kept rolling against Oregon, hitting 10 of its first 13 shots – four of those 3s – to go up 26-14.
Oregon was ragged early, forcing shots and passes in traffic, riling coach Dana Altman with numerous defensive breakdowns.
The Ducks settled down and started flying, harassing the Huskies into difficult shots, scoring in transition after turnovers and misses during an 11-0 run that helped them take a 39-38 halftime lead.
But after all the 3-pointers and soaring dunks, the second half turned into a defensive wrestling match, with bodies hitting the floor nearly every trip.
The Ducks gained a little separation midway through, when Dorsey hit a 3 and Dwayne Benjamin scored on a three-point play to put Oregon up 64-54.
Andrews brought the Huskies back. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and turned a steal into a pair of free throws that cut Oregon’s lead to 71-69 with 5 minutes left.
Washington kept the Ducks within reach from there, but never could catch them.
Washington: David Crisp, who made just four 3-pointers February, had three in the first half. … Dejounte Murray and Malik Dime had 13 points each.
Oregon: Boucher became the first player in Pac-12 history with 100 blocked shots and 30 3-pointers in a season. … The Ducks had a 46-33 rebounding edge.
Washington will have to sweat out Selection Sunday to find out if it will get an NCAA Tournament invite.
Oregon will face No. 15 Arizona or Colorado in the semifinals Friday night.
Pac-12 Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards
The expectation entering the season was that there were at least five teams capable of winning the Pac-12. Sure enough many of the expected contenders remained a factor for a significant portion of the season, with Oregon eventually rising as the class of the conference. Dana Altman’s Ducks went undefeated at home in Pac-12 play and finished above .500 on the road, which is generally a good formula to at the very least contend for a conference title. The play of Dillon Brooks, Elgin Cook and company may make Oregon the favorites in Las Vegas, but they’ll have plenty of challengers as well.
Utah has the conference’s Player of the Year in sophomore center Jakob Poeltl, Arizona and California both have talented rotations and teams such as Colorado, Oregon State, USC and Washington are all capable of making a run as well. As of right now the Pac-12 could be a seven-bid league depending upon not only what happens in Las Vegas but also in other conference tournaments across the country. This much is certain: given how balanced and talented the league is, whoever cuts down the nets Saturday night will have been pushed to their limit.
The Ducks may have just a seven-man rotation, but it’s the versatility within that group that makes them so difficult to deal with. Dillon Brooks, Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin are three forwards who can play just about anywhere on the floor. Freshman Tyler Dorsey can play either guard spot, and big man Chris Boucher is a 6-foot-10 senior who can score in the paint and also on the perimeter.
Both Boucher and Jordan Bell run the floor like gazelles and are incredibly active defensively, and point guard Casey Benson’s improved throughout the course of the season. They’ll score points thanks to the talent and Dana Altman’s offensive schemes. But if Oregon can make things happen defensively and get out in transition, they’re an incredibly tough team to beat.
And if they lose?: Utah
Utah’s rise from team that appeared to be headed towards the NCAA tournament bubble to second place in the Pac-12 is due in large part to the development of their perimeter rotation. Brandon Taylor’s embraced the facilitator role down the stretch, and Lorenzo Bonam’s made strides as well. The Runnin’ Utes can surround elite big man Jakob Poeltl with shooters, thus keeping the spacing that ultimately produces quality shots on a regular basis. Utah ranked second in the conference in field goal percentage defense and fourth in three-point percentage defense, and even with the occasional offensive issues they’ve been solid defensively.
Arizona: The Wildcats are still formidable, even with the end of their streak of two straight Pac-12 regular season titles. Gabe York’s been on fire of late, and with Ryan Anderson and Allonzo Trier leading the way Sean Miller’s team doesn’t lack for talent either.
California: The Golden Bears were the team many were waiting for to get going, and down the stretch they did. The return of Tyrone Wallace helped, and they’ve got two of the nation’s top freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. But they’ve had their issues away from Berkeley, so we’ll see what they can do in Las Vegas.
The Trojans have struggled a bit down the stretch, losing six of their final eight games of the regular season. That being said, USC’s offensive balance and tempo could lend itself to a run in Las Vegas. Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs make up a very good point guard duo, and the Trojans have capable scoring options both in the front court and on the perimeter (six players averaging double figures). They’ll need to keep the turnovers to a minimum, but Andy Enfield’s team is one to keep an eye on.
The Bubble Dwellers:
Colorado: The Buffs are in the field. But a loss to a bad Washington State team could make the wait more nerve-wracking than it should be.
Oregon State: The Beavers may have been overlooked by some when it comes to their NCAA tournament hopes. Beat Arizona State, and that should be enough.
USC: The Trojans arrive in Las Vegas in solid shape to land a bid. Avoiding a bad loss against UCLA in their tournament opener should be enough to make them feel comfortable.
Pac-12 Player of the Year: Jakob Poeltl, Utah
Poeltl was the preseason pick for the award, and despite Utah’s occasional issues on the perimeter he’s been very consistent for Larry Krystkowiak’s team. In conference play Poeltl averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, shooting a Pac-12 best 62.4 percent from the field.
Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Dana Altman, Oregon
Three times in the last four seasons Altman’s won this honor, with this most recent award being for leading the Ducks to a regular season Pac-12 title. Oregon navigated injuries early in the season, most notably the loss of the player expected to run the point in Dylan Ennis, and found their groove in conference play when all healthy pieces were back in the fold. And in a season in which road teams had an incredibly hard time picking up wins on a consistent basis, Oregon was one of two teams to sweep two Pac-12 road trips this season (Utah being the other).
First-Team All Pac-12:
Jakob Poeltl, Utah(POY)
Andrew Andrews, Washington: Andrews has been the unquestioned leader for a very young squad, and in conference games he averaged 22.3 points (first in Pac-12) and 5.1 assists (third) per game.
Gary Payton II, Oregon State: Payton’s was named the league’s best defender for a second straight year, and there’s also his versatility. The senior ranked in the top ten in the league in rebounding (ninth), assists (first), steals (first) and assist-to-turnover ratio (third), and 11th in scoring.
Dillon Brooks, Oregon: As good as Brooks was as a freshman, he was even better this season. Averaging 17.1 points per game in Pac-12 play, Brooks was a serious contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Ryan Anderson, Arizona: In his lone season on the court for Arizona, the Boston College transfer averaged 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. He was one of two Pac-12 players to average a double-double in conference play (Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson).
Second Team All Pac-12:
Jaylen Brown, California
Rosco Allen, Stanford
Dejounte Murray, Washington
Elgin Cook, Oregon
Josh Scott, Colorado
Defining moment of the season: Oregon ends Arizona’s 49-game home win streak
CBT Prediction: Oregon’s the pick here, but it would not be a surprise if any of the top four teams left Vegas with the crown.
LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 5 Xavier beats No. 1 Villanova, No. 8 Iowa and No. 9 Arizona fall
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 5 Xavier 90, No.1 Villanova 83
The top two teams in the Big East met at the Cintas Center, with the Musketeers picking up the win to move within a game of first place. In total six Musketeers reached double figures with Edmond Sumner and JP Macura scoring 19 apiece, as they gave the Villanova defense fits all night. The question now: does Chris Mack’s team have what it takes to play deep into the NCAA tournament?
Wisconsin 67, No. 8 Iowa 59: Zak Showalter limited Peter Jok to four second half points as the Badgers won for the nine time in their last ten games. Bronson Koenig scored 15 points and Nigel Hayes 12 for Wisconsin, which added another quality win to its résumé. And the biggest reason for the improvement in Greg Gard’s team has been the play of his reserves.
Colorado 75, No. 9 Arizona 72: Colorado also added another quality win to its résumé, as they held off the Wildcats in Boulder. Josh Scott accounted for 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the win, and George King added 14 points and seven rebounds. Ryan Anderson led the Wildcats with 19 points and ten rebounds, but Arizona will now nd help if they’re to win another Pac-12 title.
No. 7 North Carolina 80, NC State 68: No. 7 North Carolina rebounded from a slow start to win at NC State. The Tar Heels didn’t have an answer for Cat Barber (32 points) early, but the Wolfpack were unable to do enough to keep UNC under wraps on the other end of the floor. Brice Johnson finished with 22 points and 11 boards for North Carolina, which leads the ACC, but Marcus Paige continues to struggle offensively.
Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma: 26 points and 14 rebounds in the Sooners’ home win over Oklahoma State.
Chris Hass, Bucknell: 30 points, eight rebounds and two assists in the Bison’s 86-83 double overtime win at Lafayette.
Edmond Sumner and JP Macura, Xavier: Sumner and Macura scored 19 points apiece, with Sumner also accounting for six rebounds and nine assists, in the Musketeers’ 90-83 win over No. 1 Villanova.
Maverick Rowan, NC State: Rowan scored eight points, shooting 2-for-12 from the field, in the Wolfpack’s 80-68 loss to No. 7 North Carolina.
Nick Faust, Long Beach State: Three points on 1-for-9 shooting and three turnovers in the 49ers’ loss at UC Irvine.
Devonte Brown and Khristian Smith, Indiana State: Brown and Smith combined to score 12 points on 4-for-21 shooting in the Sycamores’ 66-44 loss at Northern Iowa.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
No. 3 Oklahoma took control of its game against Oklahoma State in the second half, outscoring the Cowboys by 19 points as they won by the final score of 71-49. Ryan Spangler was the star for the Sooners, finishing with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
Pittsburgh missed out on a quality win, as they lost at home to No. 11 Louisville 67-60. Quentin Snider led four Cardinals in double figures with 14 points while also dishing out seven assists, and Damion Lee added 13 points.
No. 13 Oregon won its school-record 24th straight home game, beating Washington State 76-62. Elgin Cook finished with 24 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks, and Chris Boucher added 18 points, 13 boards and four blocked shots.
No. 21 Texas A&M avoided a bad loss, beating Mississippi State 68-66 in College Station. Danuel House scored all 16 of his points in the second half, and Tyler Davis finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
No. 23 Notre Dame rebounded from its close loss at Georgia Tech with a 69-58 win at Wake Forest, limiting the Demon Deacons to 31.4 percent shooting. Zach Auguste posted a double-double for the Fighting Irish with 18 points and 12 rebounds, with Steve Vasturia (16 points) and Demetrius Jackson (15) also scoring in double figures.
OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS
Houston picked up its 20th win of the season, beating UCF 88-61 in Orlando. The Cougars, who will in all likelihood need to win the AAC tournament to go dancing, haven’t won 20 games in a season since 2013.
Wednesday was an important night for bubble teams in the Atlantic 10, with VCU, George Washington and St. Bonaventure all in action. While the Colonials (73-61 win at Richmond) and Bonnies (80-76 win over Duquesne) took care of business the Rams didn’t, losing 76-69 at George Mason.
Bucknell retained a one-game lead on Lehigh in the Patriot League as they won 86-83 at Lafayette in double overtime. The Bison host Navy Saturday, while Lehigh (winners of eight straight) visits Army.
Marquette picked up 66-61 win at Creighton, which could be a crippling blow to the Bluejays’ NCAA tournament hopes. Henry Ellenson posted his 17th double-double with 22 points and ten rebounds.
San Diego State wrapped up the outright Mountain West title with a 71-61 win at Wyoming, despite Wyoming’s Josh Adams scoring 27 points. The Aztecs lead second place Fresno State by four games, and if they won out this would be the largest margin for a league champion in Mountain West history.
UC Irvine, which lost to first-place Hawai’i Saturday night, grabbed sole possession of second place in the Big West with a 90-69 win over Long Beach State. The Anteaters (10-3) are ahead of the 49ers (9-4) by a game, and they hold the head to head tiebreaker due to their sweep of the season series.
Stephen Thompson Jr.’s three-pointer as time expired gave Oregon State an 82-81 win over Washington in Corvallis. And with both teams looking to play their way into the NCAA tournament, this finish is an important one for both teams.