Utah finished off a disappointing road trip with an uncompetitive effort in Eugene on Sunday as the red-hot Ducks of Oregon continued their dominance of the Runnin Utes with a 76-66 victory. Utah had no answer for sophomore wing man Dillon Brooks, who torched them to the tune of 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists, making the Utah defense look helpless at times.
The talent disparity betwen the two teams was apparent, and is something we didn't get to see for much of the first two-thirds of the season. Oregon had players all over the court. Utah had two. Maybe three. Kyle Kuzma and Jakob Poeltl looked like high level Pac 12 talents. Dakary Tucker looked like a mid-level Pac 12 talent, as did Jordan Loveridge on the offense end, but defense is half of the game, and Loveridge again couldn't play any. The rest of the players? Not so much. Brandon Taylor and Lorenzo Bonam were awful, combining for ZERO points on one end, and some rough defense on the other. Bonam was so bad that he didn't see the floor in the second half. Gabe Bealer and Brekkott Chapman were serviceable, but Chris Reyes and Isaiah Wright were mistakes waiting to happen on Sunday afternoon. I shudder to think of what this team has returning next season with Poeltl's imminent departure and the lack of development from the returning players this season.
This team still shows the flashes that teases us with hope, but it's too inconsistent. They were put in their place by Oregon and expectations for the season should likely be reset. Overreaction? Nah. The Pac 12 isn't very good. There's one good team. The rest are above average, average, or worse. In the NCAA tournament, you might get one above average to above average team. The rest will be good, and that's not a good sign for a team that should have the pieces with an all american center, a rising power forward, and two fourth year senior starters.
Oregon is the best team in the conference and no one is catching. Now it's time for Utah to aim for #2 or #3 to try to secure seeding that will help them avoid the Ducks until the final of the conference tournament, or hope another team is able to take them down along the way. Sometimes it's best to get out of the way of the freight train and let somebody else try to derail them. Move on, come home, beat a Washington school that is trending in the wrong direction, an awful Wazzu squad. and get back to playing Runnin Utes basketball, and try to improve that NCAA seeding to avoid as many good teams as possible.