LAS VEGAS — The Oregon Ducks watched Utah pulled off two upsets in the Pac-12 tournament and saw firsthand what the Utes were capable of in the regular season.
Their goal in the semifinals was to jump on the Utes early, not give them any hope.
Oregon did just that and now gets a chance to play for a championship.
Damyean Dotson and E.J. Singler scored 14 points each and Oregon raced away from Utah early for a 64-45 win Friday night at the Pac-12 tournament.
“We tried to set the tone from the start with our defense, not give them any easy buckets because that will get their energy going on the defensive end for them,” said Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd, who had 10 points.
Oregon (25-8) had its regular-season conference title chances spoiled by Utah (15-18) last weekend, but gave the Utes no chance of a repeat upset at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The third-seeded Ducks built a 14-point lead in the first half and kept the cushion near double figures the rest of the way to earn a spot in tonight’s title game against No. 21 UCLA at 8 p.m., televised on ESPN.
Oregon stifled Jarred DuBois and Jordan Loveridge, Utah’s top two scorers, all night. DuBois, who has been bothered by an injured hand, missed all eight of his shots and went scoreless, while Loveridge had eight points on one-of-10 shooting. The tired Utes shot 29 percent and went five of 17 from 3-point range after playing for the third straight night.
Oregon came out ready from the start, limiting the Utes’ scoring chances while building a 14-point lead in the first half. Oregon kept the pressure up to start the second half, hitting five of its first nine shots and going up 41-22 after Carlos Emory hit a 3-pointer and dunked in transition. The Utes tried to fight their way back, pulling within 47-39 after a 12-4 run, but Oregon fought back, not letting them any closer.
“They executed their game plan,” DuBois said. “They were the better team.”