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Struggling Utah looks for better result against Oregon

Sportsnaut
Dec 11, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes head coach Craig Smith looks to his bench in the second half against the Manhattan Jaspers at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes head coach Craig Smith looks to his bench in the second half against the Manhattan Jaspers at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Utah, which traditionally struggles with Oregon, will look to halt a seven-game series skid against the Ducks when the Pac-12 programs meet Saturday night at Eugene, Ore.

Oregon has won 16 of the past 17 meetings. The loss during that stretch came in Eugene when the Utes recorded a 66-56 victory on Dec. 29, 2017.

On Saturday, the Ducks (7-6, 0-2 Pac-12) will need to shake off some rust, as they haven’t played since notching a 68-59 win over Pepperdine on Dec. 21.

Oregon was slated to host Colorado on Thursday, but the game was postponed due to the Buffaloes’ COVID-19 issues. The contest has been rescheduled for Monday.

Ducks coach Dana Altman has spent the break preaching defense to his troops.

Oregon is 1-4 this season when allowing more than 70 points.

“We’re not aggressive enough defensively,” Altman said. “Guys aren’t thinking about making defensive plays.”

The Ducks have won more than 20 games in all 11 of Altman’s previous seasons at the school. He said defense is the reason for the success.

“If you’re going to be a consistent team and win 20 games, you better guard,” Altman said. “I know that’s boring as hell, but it’s been proven here and proven basically on every level.”

Utah (8-5, 1-2) has lost five of its past eight games after a 5-0 start.

The Utes dropped an 88-76 decision at Oregon State on Thursday as they committed 20 turnovers and were outscored 40-24 in the paint.

“At the end of the day, it is going to be really difficult to win when you turn it over 20 times and you allow 40 points in the paint,” Utah coach Craig Smith said. “Those are hard things to overcome.”

Leading scorer Branden Carlson (13.3 points per game) returned after missing two games due to COVID-19 protocols. However, Carlson shot just 3 of 10 in 24 minutes while contributing nine points and nine rebounds.

David Jenkins Jr. made five 3-pointers and scored 22 points against Oregon State. He said his team didn’t display enough fight vs. the Beavers.

“They came out throwing punches and were the aggressors,” said Jenkins, who averages 12.7 points per game. “We should have been the aggressors. We should have been the ones throwing the punches early.”

Jenkins has made 37 of Utah’s 104 3-point baskets.

Will Richardson (12.7 points per game) leads Oregon in scoring.

–Field Level Media