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Utes ousted by Oregon in Pac-12 tourney heartbreaker, 68-66

LAS VEGAS — There wasn’t much for the Utah Utes to discuss after giving up a late lead and a 68-66 decision to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. Thursday’s loss to the Ducks at T-Mobile Arena hurt, plain and simple.

“I didn’t have much to say. I need to decompress,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “You can tell I’m not really fired up about saying much.”

The Utes gave up a five-point lead in the final 3:10 en route to being ousted from the tourney.

“It’s just the flow of the game. They got hot late. We kind of cooled off,” said guard Justin Bibbins, who led Utah with 20 points. “We tried to get to the line to get something on the board, but they hit tough shots. You have a low margin of error at this time and they made plays.”

On defense, too.

The game ended with Oregon’s Kenny Wooten blocking a layup attempt by Sedrick Barefield. Elijah Brown recovered the rebound as time expired.

“I just saw an opportunity to make a defensive play and I just did the best I could to execute it,” said Wooten, who swatted away a late shot in Oregon’s overtime win over Washington State on Wednesday. “It was on the same side of the court and everything. I just tried to do the same thing.”

In the process, Utah (19-11) most likely saw its NCAA Tournament hopes go by the wayside. The Utes are expected to earn an NIT bid when pairings are announced Sunday evening.

They do so on the heels of a courageous effort by forward David Collette. The senior scored 16 points in 19 minutes after coming back from a severe ankle injury suffered in last Saturday’s 64-54 victory over Colorado.

Krystkowiak noted that Collette played great.

“Did you see his ankle? There aren’t too many people that are going to be playing on that. So I give him a hell of a lot of credit and I give our training staff a hell of a lot of credit,” Krystkowiak said. “That happened last Saturday and I’ve never seen anything like it. We just needed him on the floor for more than 17 or 18 minutes.”

Oregon took advantage. Collette and Tyler Rawson both fouled out, much to the displeasure of Krystkowiak.

“I thought it was big boy basketball,” he said. “But there were a lot of fouls called.”

Oregon’s successful rally wiped out an 11-point deficit in the final 10 minutes.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” Collette said. “There is no easy win in this conference. Everyone is a good team and we just didn’t have what it took to finish them off.”

Utah led 30-25 at halftime, holding Oregon to just 29.6 percent shooting (8 of 27).

“It’s Division I basketball,” Bibbins said. “So you could be up 20 and somebody can come back. They played a hard game.”

Brown finished with a game-high 21 points for Oregon (22-11). MiKyle McIntosh had 18, including four free throws in the final 1:13.

The Ducks face USC Friday. Arizona and UCLA play in the other semifinal.


Twitter: @DirkFacer