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Oregon men's basketball beats Colorado in Pac-12 championship: Score and updates

LAS VEGAS – Oregon is going to the Big Dance.

The Ducks came to Las Vegas this week with one last chance to make the NCAA Tournament. That was all they needed.

Oregon completed its 3-0 streak in the Pac-12 Tournament on Saturday night with a 75-68 victory over Colorado in the championship game to earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In front of a crowd of 12,912 inside T-Mobile Arena, the fourth-seeded Ducks (23-11) won their first Pac-12 title since 2019 and their sixth overall. They will find out their NCAA Tournament destination when the 68-team bracket is revealed Sunday at 3 p.m. on CBS.

“It’s special right now,” point guard Jackson Shelstad said. “We came here to accomplish one thing and we did it. I'm so proud of our team and the way we played this weekend. But we're not done yet. Now we need to make things happen.

N'Faly Dante dominates again

After three great games, Central Oregon was named most outstanding player of the tournament.

Saturday was his best performance to date.

Dante went 12 of 12 from the field for a career-high 25 points. He also had a game-high nine rebounds, three steals and an emphatic block on a 3-point attempt by Colorado's KJ Simpson with 35 seconds left and the Ducks leading 72-66.

“I thought N’Faly Dante was the difference in the game,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “…I thought it was a beast tonight.”

The fifth-year senior will play in his first NCAA Tournament game this week. In 2021, during the Ducks' last tournament appearance, Dante, then a sophomore, was out with a knee injury.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I started at Oregon,” Dante said. “I’m happy I can do something to help my team go.”

In the three Pac-12 tournament games, Dante averaged 20.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and a combined 25-of-30 from the field.

“We probably need to give him the ball more,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He puts so much pressure on defenses and then he gives us a rim protector so people know where he is. He makes the difference. Like I said, his resilience over the years, going through the The surgeries he underwent and continuing to fight, speaks volumes about his character.

Dante didn't do it alone

Guards Jermaine Couisnard and Shelstad, who were both named to the all-tournament team, also had an exceptional week in Las Vegas, including the game against the Buffaloes.

Shelstad scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds. Couisnard had 14 points, three rebounds and eight assists.

Over the three games, Couisnard averaged 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists. Shelstad averaged 16.7 points.

They were as important as anyone on Saturday night.

The Ducks led 33-30 at halftime, then engaged in a back-and-forth battle with the Buffaloes in the second half that included seven lead changes and five ties.

Colorado's last lead came at the 4:51 mark when a Luke O'Brien three-pointer put the Buffaloes up 62-61.

It was all Ducks closing out the game on a 14-4 run to lead 75-66 before Colorado's Cody Williams hit a shot as the final seconds ticked down.

The Ducks then held a celebration near center field before cutting down the nets — a trophy that Couisnard and Tracey wore around their necks during postgame interviews.

“For me, it was something I had always dreamed of,” Couisnard said. “I just won. I feel like the guys who got together at the beginning of the year and we wrote this on the board.

The ducks arrived in Las Vegas in the form of long shots

Oregon hadn't won three games in a row since a six-game winning streak that the Buffaloes ended on Jan. 18. Since then, Oregon had won two games in a row just once.

Then, as the table unfolded, the Ducks had to face three opponents against whom they had a combined score of 1-5 during the regular season at No. 5 UCLA, #1 in Arizona and No. 3 Colorado – which had beaten Oregon twice, including two weeks ago at Matthew Knight Arena.

In other words, Oregon seemed destined to return home early and prepare for a third straight appearance in the National Invitation Tournament.

But they started with a 68-66 victory against the Bruins in the quarterfinals on Thursday, shocked the Wildcats 67-59 in the semifinals Fridaythen held on against the Buffaloes until pulling away in the final minutes.

“Belief,” Couisnard said. ” That's the word. Belief. We knew what we had to do when we came here. And we knew we had to win three games in a row. Everyone had to put everything aside and do whatever it took for us to win.

“I also trust our coaches,” Jadrian Tracey said. “Knowing they’ve been here before.” They preached it to us and it made us believe more. Like coach said, we have great leaders and we were able to achieve this.

What's next for Oregon

THE The NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday show begins at 3 p.m. on CBS when the full selection of 68 teams is revealed.

Live coverage of Oregon men's basketball vs. Colorado

With about 20 minutes to go before the announcement, the starters for both teams were revealed. For Oregon, Jackson Shelstad (13 PPG), Jermaine Couisnard (15.5 PPG), Kwame Evans Jr. (7.6 PPG), Jadrian Tracey (7.7 PPG) and N'Faly Dante (15.7 PPG ) should start. For Colorado: Luke O'Brien (6.4 PPG), J'Vonne Hadley (12 PPG), KJ Simpson (19.5 PPG), Tristan da Silva (16 PPG) and Eddie Lampkin (10.3 PPG).

The ducks take the lead

At the first media timeout, the Ducks led the Buffaloes 7-5 with 15:34 left in the first half. Couisnard scored Oregon's first four points and Shelstad just added a 3-pointer. Colorado already has three turnovers in just over four minutes.

The buffalo strike back

A 7-0 run by Colorado gave it a 14-11 lead with 11:32 left in the first half. The Ducks shot just 4 of 12 from the field and got crushed on the glass, 9-4. Colorado's Simpson has five early points.

The pace picks up as teams find their rhythm

With four minutes left in the first half, Oregon trailed Colorado 26-19.

Every Buffalo starter scored, led by Simpson's seven, while Oregon was paced by Dante's six points. The Ducks shot less than 30 percent from the field, but forced six Buffalo turnovers to stay in the game.

HALF: Oregon 33, Colorado 30

The Ducks finished the first half on a 14-4 run, taking advantage of turnovers and catching fire offensively to take the halftime lead. Dante and Shelstad have nine points to lead both teams, and Couisnard has eight.

Colorado is led by Da Silva and Simpson, seven each.

Oregon maintains lead early in second half

Led by more goals from Dante, Shelstad and Couisnard, the Ducks lead the Buffs 44-39 with 15:56 to play. All three ducks are in double digits.

Ducks and buffs come and go

Like two fighters, the Ducks and Buffaloes fight blow for blow. Oregon leads Colorado 56-55 with 7:41 left in the game, led by Dante's 19 points and five rebounds.

Colorado leads with less than four years to play

The Buffaloes took a 62-61 lead with 3:59 to play behind a 3-pointer from O'Brien. Oregon shot just 2 of 17 from 3-point land.

The ducks come back in front

Behind a quick 5-0 run, Oregon regained the lead with 2:41 remaining after a reverse layup by Tracey. The Ducks lead 66-62. Dante has 21 points on a perfect 10 for 10 shooting with six rebounds.

Ducks lead by seven points with less than a minute to play

Dante continued his hot streak after altering a Colorado shot attempt and forcing a miss, before missing a miss to give Oregon an ultimately seven-point lead, 71-64. He has 25 points.

FINAL: Oregon 75, Colorado 68

The Ducks earn a Pac-12 Tournament championship and their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2021, with a 75-68 victory over Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship. N'Faly Dante had the game of his life, scoring a game-high 25 points, along with nine rebounds and the decisive block on a 3-point attempt with less than a minute to play.

Jackson Shelstad scored 17 points and Jermaine Couisnard also had 14 points and eight assists for the Ducks. Colorado was led by KJ Simpson's 23 points and seven rebounds.

The Ducks will now wait for when and where they play in the Big Dance tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.

Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter @chansen_RG or by email to chansen@registerguard.com.

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