Tyrone Nared stepped up to the foul line for a one and one with 1:00 remaining. He would make both ends, pushing the lead to 82-76. And with that, the Ducks were able to hold on for a 90-81 win against Colorado, and take the front end of the important final two-game home stand.
Said Oregon coach Dana Altman after the game “All we have done is keep ourselves in the hunt, and we’ve got a lot of hunting left to do”.
On Thursday evening in front of an announced crowd of 10,065, Oregon was able to assert themselves in the second half and break a 4th place conference tie with the buffs. They were also able to record their 21st victory of the season, equaling their win total- after post season play- from last year. The win moved them to 12-5 in conference and 21-8 overall.
The 12-5 pac-12 record does create a tie with Arizona, but the Ducks own the head to head tie-breaker. With a win Saturday against Utah, Dana Altman’s team will finish no worse than 3rd in the Pac-12, and assure themselves a bye in first round of the conference tournament.
The Ducks started fast and jumped out to a 9-3 lead to start the game, but Colorado jumped right back in and grabbed the momentum and the lead. Colorado was able to find an early rhythm behind Carlon Brown, Nate Tomlinson, and Spencer Dinwiddie. Oregon did not look very comfortable in the first half, and were down as much as 32-23 before Devoe Joseph hit a 3 pointer with 1:22 to go. Colorado took a 41-36 lead going into the half.
Coming out of the break, Oregon showed a different focus and an attitude on defense. The Ducks battled their way back and finally regained the lead, 48-47 on two consecutive 3 point plays by Carlos Emory which accounted for 6 of his 14 points. He was first hacked first by Nate Tomlinson, and then by Austin Dufault with 11:39 remaining.
From there, Oregon did not look back.
Led by 13 points a piece from guards Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim in the second half, the Ducks were able to stretch the lead to as many as 14 points. Colorado would make a run, but Sim was able to extend the lead back to 80-70 on a fall away jumper with 2:11 remaining, which brought the previously reserved Matthew Knight crowd to it’s feet.
The Buffaloes had 4 players score in double figures led by Carlon Brown’s 20 points on 8-11 from the field and 3-3 from 3. Nate Tomlinson had 11 points and went 3-6 from behind the arc. The Ducks were able to lock down freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie, holding him to to 2-7 field goals, and 0-4 on threes, but he did connect on 8-9 from the free throw line and finished with 12 points.
Devoe Joseph led the Ducks with 24 points on 11-16 shooting, and also had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Garrett Sim added 19 points and shot 5-7 from three, Emory finished with 14, and Singler had 10. Oregon earned the edge in rebounding 28-23 and the turnover battle 15-11.
Perhaps no player picked a better time to shine then senior Tyrone Nared. The forward from Woonsocket, Rhode Island had a solid 5 rebounds and 6 points. While going a cold 0-2 from the floor, Nared flawlessly connected on 6-6 free throws with 4 of those coming in the final minute.
After giving his team a 6 point lead with under a minute to go, Nared had a huge block on a Colorado shot under the basket, came up with the loose ball and was fouled again. The senior was perfect on those critical final attempts to ensure the Duck win.
Nared played much of the second half in place of Tony Woods, who left the game after 6 points and 5 rebounds with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Up next for Oregon is the home finale against struggling Utah, who watched their record slip to 6-23 after a blowout in Corvallis. Oregon won the first meeting in Salt Lake City 79-68 with Joseph, Emory, and Singler leading the way in that game. The win was not easy, however, as Utah led in the game 59-58 in the final minutes. Saturday will be the final regular season game for both teams, and the Ducks will need to give the Utes their full attention.
Oregon has also taken one step closer to their goal of NCAA tournament play. Thursday’s game against Colorado marked a significant achievement on the first day of March in the conference race. While there are games yet to be played, the win Thursday was noted as not only a game for 3rd place, but also between 2 of the leading pac-12 coach of the year candidates. It will be interesting to see which coach will take home that title next week.
Saturday 03/03/12 3:00 pm at Matthew Knight Arena
Oregon (21-8 12-5 pac-12)
Utah (6-23 3-17 pac-12)
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