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Surprising Utah aims for 6-0 Pac-12 start, faces Oregon

Jan 5, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes center Branden Carlson (35) shoots the ball over Oregon State Beavers forward Michael Rataj (12) in the second half at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Utah will be out to extend its winning streak against fellow Pac-12 teams when it hosts Oregon on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

The Utes (12-4, 5-0 Pac-12) have won five straight to open Pac-12 play for the first time since joining the conference in 2011. A victory over the Ducks would give Utah its first six-game winning streak in league play since running off seven consecutive victories to close out the 2015-16 regular season.

It’s a far cry from the Utes team that won four Pac-12 games and 11 games overall last season.

“It is good to set some new history that is not negative like last year’s history,” senior center Branden Carlson said.

Utah dispatched Oregon State 79-60 on Thursday night to keep its perfect league record intact. Carlson scored 27 points, matching his career high, and collected 11 rebounds to help the Utes pull away from the Beavers late in the second half.

Oregon State could not keep pace with Utah after shooting only 31.3 percent from the field in the second half.

“Give our guys credit, man. We had a different mindset in that second half defensively,” Utes coach Craig Smith said.

Oregon should serve as a good barometer for Utah’s progress. The Ducks have lost just twice to the Utes since Utah joined the Pac-12 for the 2011-12 season. They haven’t dropped a game in Salt Lake City since 2013.

Still, the Ducks aren’t flying high these days.

Oregon (8-7, 2-2 Pac-12) was routed 68-41 by Colorado on Thursday night. It was the fewest points in a game for Oregon since 2009.

The Ducks shot just 26.9 percent from the field and had just three assists. They went 1-of-14 from 3-point range and went 10 minutes without scoring a basket.

Quincy Guerrier was the only Ducks played to finish in double figures, scoring 10 points. Leading scorer Will Richardson (14.9 ppg) was held to five points on 1-of-9 shooting.

“I’m embarrassed,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Just a very poor performance and kind of shows the importance of Will (Richardson). When he’s off a little bit, we couldn’t get anything going.”

–Field Level Media