Oregon handles Utah, 64-45, in Pac-12 semifinals

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By The Associated Press

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 Saturday’s title game against No. 21 UCLA.

Oregon won its lone regular-season game against the top-seeded Bruins, who lost second-leading scorer Jordan Adams to a broken foot at the end of their win over No. 18 Arizona in the other semifinal.

“If you can’t get an adrenaline rush and get excited about playing the conference championship and playing UCLA, then you don’t have a heartbeat,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.

Oregon stifled Jarred DuBois and Jordan Loveridge, Utah’s top two scorers, all night. DuBois, who’s been bothered by an injured hand, missed all eight of his shots and went scoreless, while Loveridge had eight points on 1-of-10 shooting.

With its top two scorers struggling, Utah had little chance of pulling off a third straight upset.

The tired Utes shot 29 percent and went 5 of 17 from 3-point range after playing for the third straight night.

Brandon Taylor had 13 points and senior Jason Washburn added 12 in what’s likely his last game for Utah, which will miss the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season.

UCLA 66, ARIZONA 64

LAS VEGAS — Freshman Jordan Adams carried UCLA into the Pac-12 championship game.

Now the Bruins will have to carry on without him.

Adams scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half before breaking his right foot on the game’s final play, helping No. 21 UCLA beat No. 18 Arizona for the third time this season, a 66-64 victory Friday night that sends the Bruins to the Pac-12 tournament title game.

Adams, UCLA’s second-leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, limped off the floor after Arizona’s final shot attempt and x-rays showed a broke fifth metatarsal, putting a damper on UCLA’s win and the rest of its postseason.

“The very last play of the game when they were shooting, somehow he came down and tweaked his foot,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

Ditching their new pajama-like uniforms for the more traditional white with blue and yellow trim, the Bruins (25-8) fought back from an 11-point second-half deficit after pulling off a similar rally against Arizona State in the quarterfinals. Adams triggered it, scoring 17 points in the final 9:57, including 15 straight during one stretch.

Kyle Anderson put UCLA in front on a putback with 22 seconds left and Arizona’s Solomon Hill missed a midrange jumper, sending the Bruins into Saturday night’s title game against Oregon.

“The leaders on our team stressed to the five guys that are out there that we have to stay calm, being down 11 or 9 or whatever it was,” said Anderson, who had 10 points. “I think that’s what we did a really good job of and we were able to fight back for a second time and end up with the win.”

Arizona (25-7) was effective in slowing down Shabazz Muhammad and Larry Drew II, but had no answer for Adams once he got going in the second half.

Muhammad finished with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting after a quiet first half and Drew went scoreless after missing all five of his shots.

Adams made up for it, hitting 6 of 13 shots and 11 of 13 from the free-throw line for the Pac-12 regular-season champs in an entertaining game at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Brandon Ashley had 15 points, Mark Lyons added 13 and Kaleb Tarczewski had 13 rebounds for the Wildcats, who had already been assured a spot in the NCAA tournament, but could drop a few seeds after a late-season slide and the loss to UCLA.

“I don’t know what seed we’re going to get,” Arizona coach Sean Miller sad. “We played well from start to finish and we lost. It’s hard when you lose to a team three times.”

UCLA beat Arizona twice during the regular season, 84-73 in Tucson and 74-69 at home for its first season sweep of the Wildcats since 2007-08.

UCLA got off to a slow start in its opening game of the Pac-12 tournament, rallying from a 15-point deficit to beat Arizona State 80-75 in the quarterfinals.

Arizona built a 14-point lead in its opener, but couldn’t shake Colorado until late for a 79-69 win.

After the quarterfinal win, the Wildcats said they were looking forward to get a chance for revenge against the Bruins.

They played with an extra intensity, too, particularly on defense, cutting off lanes, knocking UCLA’s players to the floor with hard fouls.

Hounded by Nick Johnson, Drew had trouble getting into the lane, where he does his most damage, and missed all three of his shots — with one assist — in a scoreless first half.

“We picked Larry Drew up much closer to the basket and I thought that helped our entire team, not just the guy guarding him,” Miller said.

The Wildcats, led by Hill, also kept Muhammad from breaking loose.

The freshman swingman had a slow start against Arizona State in the quarterfinals before taking over during a key stretch in the second half and struggled early against Arizona, scoring 2 points while making 1 of his 4 shots.

“Everybody’s dialed in on Shabazz. God bless him,” Howland said. “He’s seeing the best team’s defender night in and night out, and they’re really coming after him

UCLA missed all five of its 3-point attempts in the first half and shot 11 of 32 with just two assists.

Arizona led 30-26 at halftime and tried to pull away from the Bruins to start the second half.

With Drew and Muhammad still unable to shake their shadows, UCLA missed its first five shots and Arizona stretched the lead to 49-38 midway through.

But, just like he did against the Sun Devils, Muhammad started to come alive, scoring on a layup and on a three-point play as part of a 9-0 run that pulled the Bruins within 49-47.

Then it was Adams’ turn. He matched the Wildcats by himself in a back-and-forth game, scoring 15 straight points in a little over 5 minutes to put UCLA ahead.

Arizona couldn’t stop Adams and became frustrated with the officiating — Miller received his first technical foul of the season — and let the game slip away.

The Wildcats attempted nine free throws and made seven while UCLA went 17 of 21 from the line.

“We let the refs dictate our play in the second half and our tempo,” Hill said. “When you start getting down on the refs and try to argue with the refs, you kind of lose focus on the team goals and what we want to do out there. “

“All I ever wanted was to win and get back to the top,” an emotional Washburn said. “Unfortunately in my era, we couldn’t do that.”

The Pac-12 had a surprise tournament champion last season, when Colorado won four games in four days to earn the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament berth.

Utah was hoping to make it two straight to go four in four.

The 10th-seeded Utes opened this year’s tournament by knocking off No. 7 seed Southern California and followed that up with a 79-69 overtime victory over No. 2 Cal on Thursday night.

Oregon also needed overtime to get through the quarterfinals, pulling out an 80-77 win over Washington after Arsalan Kazemi rallied from being benched by scoring 11 of his 14 points in the extra period.

Utah had to be optimistic against the Ducks, too.

After losing by nine to Oregon on the road, the Utes spoiled the Ducks’ bid for the Pac-12 regular-season title with a 72-62 win at home in the regular-season finale.

Oregon came out ready to get its revenge for the title-costing loss, limiting the Utes’ scoring chances while building a 14-point lead in the first half.

Utah made 6 of 19 shots in the first half and had eight turnovers that led to 10 points for Oregon.

Dotson led the Ducks with 10 points 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 Emory hit a 3-pointer and threw down a dunk 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.”

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