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No. 9 Utes survive in 47-37 defensive battle with Oregon State

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Gill Coliseum, where Oregon State plays basketball, is one of the oldest basketball arenas in the nation. It opened 65 years ago, back on Dec. 16, 1949 when the Beavers took an 11-point victory against the University of Utah, only to see Utah come back and win the following night by 12 points.

Since then, the Utes have lost six more times here but finally broke the streak with a 47-37 victory Thursday night. The win also broke the Beavers' unbeaten streak at home as they were 14-0 coming into the game, including a 58-56 win over Arizona.

Thursday’s game looked like it could have been played in 1949 when the Utes and Beavers actually scored more points in each of those two games, which is basically what Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak said afterward.

“We set the game back a little bit tonight,’’ said Krystkowiak. “It was one of those heavyweight fights and we managed to have just enough going down the stretch to make enough plays. But it wasn’t a pretty game.’’

The No. 9-ranked Utes improved to 21-4 on the season and 11-2 in Pac-12 play, while the Beavers fell to 17-9 and 7-7 in league play. Delon Wright had a fine overall game with 9 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Utah.

Utah broke away from a 16-14 halftime lead thanks to several timely 3-pointers in the second half to pull away in the final seven minutes. Jordan Loveridge hit one and Brandon Taylor followed with a pair to give the Utes a 41-30 lead with 2:41 left.

Dakarai Tucker, who led the Utes with 11 points, heated up in the second half when no one else on the floor could make a basket. Tucker scored nine straight Ute points with a three-point play off a drive and back-to-back 3-pointers from the left corner to stake the Utes a 30-23 lead with 12:07 left in the game.

“I just try to bring energy that’s my main focus,’’ Tucker said. “Be an energy player, be poised and be patient and let the game come to me.’’

The Utes extended the lead to nine at 32-23 on a tip-in by Wright, but Malcolm Duviver came back with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to six.

After a Utah timeout, Jordan Loveridge hit his 3-pointer to make it 35-26 and later Taylor sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed by another from striaght on that pretty much put the game away.

"I knew I was due for one,'' said Taylor, who had missed his first three 3-pointers.

Duvivier was the only Oregon State player in double figures with 11.

Neither team could make it to 20 in the first half, which saw Utah leading 16-14 at the break. Both teams shot 7 for 19 from the field (36.8 percent), but a lot of the problem was ball-handling as the Utes turned the ball over eight times, more than they had in their entire previous game against Cal.

The Utes rotated four different players on OSU’s leading scorer Gary Payton in the first half and kept him without a basket until the 2:22 mark when a Payton drive tied the score at 14-14. The Utes took a lead into the locker room thanks to a hook shot by seldom-used Jeremy Olsen with 52 seconds left.

Payton finished with just six points, well below his 13.2 average and led his team with six rebounds.

The Utes will head down the road and play Oregon in Eugene Sunday at 1 p.m. MT at Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks improved to 9-5 in Pac-12 play with a 73-60 victory over Colorado Wednesday night.

GAME NOTES: The Beavers had a near-sellout for their last home game against Washington with 9,114, but it wasn’t close to a sellout Thursday night with a crowd of 6,124 . . . The Utes shot 47.6 percent in the second half and 42.5 percent for the game, while the Beavers only managed 33.3 percent . . . Utah won the rebound battle 33 to 25, but had 13 turnovers comaperd to just four for OSU . . . This is the only meeting between the two schools this year . . . Last year, the Utes only played the Beavers in Salt Lake, winning 80-69 early in the Pac-12 season . . . In the Utes’ first two years in the Pac-12 they went 1-3 against the Beavers, losing both times in Corvallis . . . Next week, the Utes return home to play Arizona State Thursday night and Arizona on Saturday. The following week, they’ll conclude the regular season with a pair of games against Washington State and Washington before getting ready for the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas . . . Gill Coliseum is named after Amory (Slats) Gill, who coached at OSU for 36 seasons from 1928 to 1964, compiling a 599-392 record . . . The Beavers held walk-on tryouts before the season and 22 students tried out for the team.