The game started with a surprising couple of baskets, but then a slugfest started. There has never been a truer use of this word, there were only 7 made baskets in the first ten minutes of the game. It was a gruesome affair, with brutal offense on both sides.
The premiere player in the game did start to appear though, Delon Wright was the most hyped up player in the game and he did show some of his ability, cutting through the lane and creating turnovers. There wasn't as great an impact in the first half though.
Even at this point in the game neither team could really pull away although it was obvious that Utah was the better team, they were struggling against the Oregon State zone defense, but they were creating good shots that they were missing. The Beaver offense was laboring to even created contested looks. With both offenses producing very little the halftime score was a paltry 16-14 in favor of the Utes.
Once the second half started the game began to shift to Utah, they jumped out to a 5 point lead but Oregon State pushed back behind Duvivier, below, and would not give up.
The Utes kept pushing their advantage and that was depth. The Beavers looked tired as the game got into the middle stages of the second half. They stopped moving their feet and just swiped at the ball allowing for and-1 situations.
Delon Wright especially took advantage of that and was driving and slashing to finish through contact or distribute. Dakarai Tucker was the main beneficiary and hit a layup but more importantly leaked out for a three which led to an Oregon State timeout. He hit a contested one after that though and the damage was done. It was up to a 7 point lead and the Beaver offense was still overwhelmed in the face of the tenacious Utah defense.
A good demonstration of the Utah defense. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
With no offense to speak of the Beavers continued to fall further and further behind. It was at an extraordinarily slow pace, but it continued to grow and in this game a 7 point lead was gigantic. OSU started to break down mentally too in the final minutes, They were missing switches and at one point Gomis was out on a shooter and let him past when he thought someone else was coming to close. The only real highlight that came from the end of the game when Jarmal Reid packed it onto a Utah player's head, but even that was answered on by a Poeltl layup.
Utah closed out an ugly game with some makes and misses at the free throw line, but with how suffocating they were on defense it made little difference when they made. The final score ended at 47-37, which accurately showed how much of a slowed down defensive struggle this game was. And disappointed most of the small but loud crowd of 6,124.
Duvivier finished with a game high 12 points, with Gomis the Beavers' second leading scorer, with 7. Payton finished with only 6 points, and Oregon St. does not have enough other offense to win without more production from him.
Olaf Schaftenaar finally made a 3 point basket, snapping a streak of 18 straight misses from beyond the arc, but that was his only basket of the game, on 9 shots, 8 of which were from 3 point range.
Depth mattered, as Oregon St. played only 7 players, with none of the walkons getting in, a rarity. Meanwhile, Utah played 11, with Tucker their leading scorer, off that bench, the only Ute in double digits, with 11 points. Wright led the Ute starters, with 9 points, and a game high 9 rebounds.
Oregon St.'s first home loss of the season extended their losing streak to 3 games, and dropped them to 16-10, and 7-7 in the Pac-12. Utah improved to 21-4, and 11-2 in conference, with all 11 wins by double digit margins.
In the end the better team won, they put themselves in the position to take advantage of their depth and top-end talents. It is OSU's first home loss of the year in either men's or women's basketball, and the NIT is now truly in jeopardy. With a bounce back win against Colorado however it might keep them in the picture. The Buffs come in Saturday night at 7 PM with a 12-13 record, and are 5-8 in conference, having lost 4 of their last 5 games, including 73-60 Wednesday night at Oregon. The Beavers will be favored to be the team that starts a new winning streak.