by Tomas Lopez
It appears nobody wants to win the Pac-12 title, but Oregon remains on the inside track. The Oregon Ducks get another chance to wrap up their first regular-season title since 2002 with a victory at Utah on Saturday. Oregon, UCLA and California entered the final week of the regular season with a chance to claim the title, but only the Ducks continue to control their own destiny. If they stumble, UCLA wins the title with a victory at Washington on Saturday.
Freshman guard Dominic Artis continues to work his way back in the lineup and played 14 minutes in Oregon's 76-53 loss at Colorado on Thursday. The Ducks are 6-5 since Artis suffered a foot injury in January and missed nine of those games before playing 12 minutes in Oregon's 75-65 victory over Oregon State on Feb. 28. The Utah Utes snapped a four-game losing streak with a 72-61 victory over Oregon State on Thursday and are capable of providing a stern challenge for the Ducks.
Oregon Ducks (23-7, 12-5 Pac-12): Freshman guard Damyean Dotson, the Ducks' third-leading scorer at 10.8 points, left the Oregon State game with a hip injury, but returned to play 25 minutes against Colorado. Artis played 14 minutes Thursday and recorded three points and one assist. Oregon will need more out of leading scorer E.J. Singler. The senior forward, who averages 11.2 points, scored two against the Buffaloes and is averaging 7.5 over his last four games. The Ducks feature a balanced attack with six players averaging at least 9.4 points, including senior forward Arsalam Kazemi (9.5), who is also third in the Pac-12 at 9.8 rebounds.
Utah Utes (12-17, 4-13): As the Utes wind down their fourth straight losing season, they will say goodbye to two of their top three scorers in seniors Jarred DuBois and Jason Washburn. DuBois, a guard, averages 12.1 points and also leads the team with 3.1 assists. Washburn, a center, averages 11.5 points and is second at 6.6 rebounds. Freshman Jordan Loveridge, a 6-6 forward, averages 11.8 and 6.9 and is a major building block for coach Larry Krystkowiak. He had 17 points and 12 assists against Oregon State while playing 39 minutes. Freshman guard Brandon Taylor is another promising player at 6.2 points in 19 minutes.
1. Should the Ducks and Bruins share the regular-season title, Oregon would earn the No. 1 tournament seed by virtue of its 76-67 victory at UCLA on Jan. 19. California, which ended its regular season with an 83-70 loss to Stanford on Wednesday, needs Oregon and UCLA to lose in order to gain a share of the regular-season title and the top seed.
2. The Utes are No. 1 in the Pac-12 in scoring defense at 62.9 points while the Ducks are second at 63.3
3. Oregon won the first meeting 73-64 on Feb. 9.
NCAA Basketball Prediction: Utah 63, Oregon 62.
larry krystkowiak - arsalam kazemi - brandon taylor - damyean dotson - e.j. singler - jarred dubois - jason washburn - jordan loveridge - oregon ducks - utah utes