Behind career-highs from redshirt-sophomore Erin Boley, 31 points, and sophomore Satou Sabally, with 33, Oregon (19-1, 8-0) outpaced the Washington schools for the second time this season, earning the Ducks a No. 4 spot in this week’s AP Poll to head into this weekend's matchups. Oregon will host the second-ranked team in the Pac-12, No. 14 Utah (18-1, 7-1), and Colorado (10-9, 0-8).
The outcome of the Oregon-Utah game determines the Pac-12 leader, as the Ducks and Utes sit first and second in conference standings, respectively.
Oregon has won its last six games against Utah and hasn’t lost since 2015 before seniors Maite Cazorla and Oti Gildon were even on the team. Further, Cazorla and Gildon have 99 career wins apiece, needing just one more to secure 100.
Last weekend, the Utes upset No. 6 Stanford 75-68. They will look for their next upset at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday.
Earlier in the season, the Utes fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils, their only conference loss of this year. The Sun Devils almost upset Oregon in the final minutes of their matchup two weekends ago.
Utah senior Megan Huff, at 6-foot-3-inches, is just an inch shy of Oregon junior Ruthy Hebard. The starting forward, who is in her second season with the Utes, is the second-ranked rebounder in the conference with 9.6 a game, compared to Hebard’s 9.3, and has more points per game than any Duck at 19.7. Ionescu leads for the Ducks with 19.4, while Oregon’s offense outscores Utah’s 49.8 percent to 49.3.
The Utes also have five freshmen including redshirt-freshman Dru Gylten who has started every game this season. The fresh talent could be what the Utes need to upset Oregon.
After hosting the Utes, the Ducks will face the Colorado Buffalos, who have yet to win a conference game this year. Oregon last saw the Buffalos in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament where the Ducks outpaced Colorado 84-47. In that game, Oregon made a tournament-record setting 13 3-pointers.
Before meeting the Ducks in the tournament, Colorado blew past Utah in the first round to finish the season with a 15-16 record. This season with no conference wins and an eight-game loss streak, Colorado sits at the back of the Pac-12.
Senior guard Kennedy Leonard, averaging a team-high 14.1 points a game for the Buffalos, and sophomore Mya Hollingshed, averaging a team-high 6.8 rebounds, were big in the Pac-12 quarterfinal game last season. Both return to face Oregon at the Ducks' home.
Colorado head coach JR Payne, in her third year with the Buffs, is a former athlete and assistant coach to Oregon head coach Kelly Graves, having played for him at St. Mary’s, before graduating in 1999, and coached with him at Gonzaga from 2000-2005, adding some flavor to Sunday's matchup.
The Ducks host the Utes Friday night with a 7 p.m. PT tip, before hosting the Buffalos on Sunday at 12 p.m PT.
Follow Sierra Webster on Twitter @WebsterSierraE