LAS VEGAS — Kenny Wooten blocked two shots in the final 20 seconds of overtime to help the Oregon men's basketball team survive a war of attrition Wednesday, 64-62 over Washington State in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Ducks (21-11) led for just 71 seconds in the 45-minute contest, but had the lead when it counted thanks to a go-ahead bucket by Payton Pritchard with 28 seconds left. The Cougars had two possessions to try and retake the lead in the final 20 seconds, but Wooten blocked shots each time, including one as time expired.
"We ended up getting stops when we needed it," Pritchard told Pac-12 Networks after the game. "Kenny Wooten came up big for us. It really came down to defense."
How It Happened: A week after losing to the Cougars in Pullman, Oregon seemed destined to drop another for most of the way Wednesday. The Ducks trailed 24-17 at halftime, and by four with about three minutes left in regulation. Pritchard hit a three to get Oregon within 50-49, and MiKyle McIntosh gave the UO men their first lead of the night at 51-50 with 59.7 seconds left.
A steal and dunk by Troy Brown Jr. made it 53-50, capping a 7-0 run for Oregon. But Malachi Flynn kicked off a run of late-game dramatics with a game-tying three-pointer, and Pritchard's jumper just before the end of regulation was off. McIntosh scored early in overtime to give Oregon a brief lead, 55-54. But Flynn made another three-pointer, and after Brown and McIntosh each made only 1-of-2 free throws, Flynn hit a fadeaway jumper to put WSU up, 61-57.
McIntosh scored again to get the Ducks within two, and Flynn provided an opening by making just 1-of-2 free throws for a 62-59 WSU lead. Brown's basket got the Ducks back within a point, and after Oregon's pressure forced a turnover, Pritchard finished at the rim for a 63-62 lead. Free throws continued to haunt the Ducks; after Wooten's first block, with 13 seconds left, Pritchard missed two free throws, Brown got the offensive rebound and was fouled, and he made only 1-of-2. But with Oregon clinging to a two-point lead, Wooten blocked another shot, and the Ducks advanced.
Who Stood Out: Pritchard made 4-of-7 threes to finish with 18 points, and grabbed six rebounds. McIntosh also scored 18 and added seven rebounds. Brown led the Ducks with 11 rebounds and had four steals, finding ways to contribute despite a 2-of-10 shooting night.
As a team, Oregon was 24-of-62 for the game, 38.7 percent. And the Ducks inexplicably were 8-of-18 from the free-throw line, including 3-of-8 in overtime. "We weren't sharp," UO coach Dana Altman told Pac-12 Networks afterward. "It was a bad ballgame for sure; they had a lot to do with that. … We've just got to be better than that."
What It Means: The Ducks won at least one conference tournament game for the 12th time in 15 appearances, and now look to reach the semifinals for the fourth year in a row.
Courtesy: UO Athletics