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March 15, 2013

Oregon ready for Utah

After a hotly contested 80-77 overtime win over Washington, Oregon head coach Dana Altman sat at the podium inside the Pac-12 media interview room not long before midnight. While the press conference was to discuss the Ducks' big win over the Huskies, it wasn't long before the media steered the conversation to the impending meeting with Utah.

With all of Utah's momentum since the beginning of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday coupled with a double-digit win over the Ducks just last week, Dana Altman is a believer in the tournament's hottest team.

"[Utah] is playing really well. They've got a lot of guys that can score, and they're running stuff. DuBois is making play after play after play, the three he hit to put it into overtime was an unbelievable shot," Altman praised.

As Altman pointed out, it isn't just the Ute players doing good things. The Utah coaching staff is also deserving of a healthy portion of credit, not by observation, but by the very words of Krystkowiak's Pac-12 colleagues, who admit that Krystkowiak and Co. have kept them guessing.

"I will say that Larry [Krystkowiak] has done a really good job and they run a lot of stuff. Trying to predict what they're going to run is hard. We kept expecting them to run something called 'hammer', and they didn't run it," said Cal head coach Mike Montgomery of Utah's last offensive possession which saw DuBois hit a wild, contested three-pointer to send the game to overtime.

According to Montgomery, Cal wasn't fooled on just a singular play, but rather, was kept on his heels all game long.

"We went back and forth all game long, and we felt that [Utah] was just getting too good a shots, against the zone, so we went to man" said Montgomery in reference to why he had his team switch from zone defense to man and then back again through the course of the game. "They made some adjustments to everything we did, and then of course, they were just making tough shots. We felt that a lot of their shots, including that last one to put it into overtime were contested."

So the combination of a team that has finally put it all together - and at exactly the right time, along with a savvy, experienced coaching staff have created a tough draw for any team in the Pac-12 tournament, no matter the seed.

"They've won four in a row, and I mentioned Washington winning four or five. Utah has now won four in a row, so you can forget their record," Altman explained. "Confidence is one game away , and they've got four of them."

Altman further explained what his team will need to do in going up against the Utes.

"We're going to have to play really well. We're going to have to defend them tomorrow because they've got guards that can really motor, and Washburn is tough inside," Altman offered. "We're going to have to play really well. It wasn't that Cal played bad today, I just thought that Utah played really good."

As for Oregon players, the sting of Utah's loss may still be lingering, despite claims to the contrary.

"I really look forward to [playing Utah again]. But that game is gone, and I tried to like, keep it out of my head because that was a game that really hurt our whole team," Oregon center Arsalan Kazemi admitted. "This is just a new life for every team, and we've just got to go out there and play against Utah. They're really hot right now, and we've just got to go out from the first minute and bring great energy."

The Ducks went on to explain that the Friday night showdown with Utah would likely go down to the wire, and that they are expecting Utah's best shot.

"I told the guys that every game is going to be a 40 minute game. If you look at the conference, every game was a 40 minute game, there weren't many blow-outs," Altman predicted. "We're expecting a 40 minute game, or more, with Utah tomorrow, and I know that. I know that UCLA and Arizona are expecting to go 40, so the fans are going to see two pretty good games. I really believe that."


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