SALT LAKE CITY — Down 1 point with 25 seconds left to play in regulation, Utah had the game in its hands. It was an opportunity to spoil an Oregon Ducks team on a four-game winning streak and a perpetual thorn in the Utes' side.
But on what was expected to be the final possession of Saturday's contest, the ball slipped loose from Utah and headed to midcourt. Fortunately for the Utes, Timmy Allen was there before it could cross half court. He stumbled with the ball and it slipped out of his hands before he collected it with both hands and attempted to dribble to get a shot off with 5 seconds left to play.
The refs saw a double dribble and gave the ball to the Ducks.
"All I can say is wow. We scrapped, we played our butts off," Krystkowiak said, speaking about Allen's turnover at the end. "And it wasn't error-free by any means — we made plenty of mistakes, Oregon made plenty of mistakes. ... At the end of the day, we let players determine a game. So to make up a call at the end that didn't happen is mind-boggling.
"I'm really confused and I feel really bummed for our team," he added. "I feel bad for the game that it has to be that way."
All Utah could do was foul and hope for a last-second heave to tie the game after Chris Duarte made two straight free throws. But the final attempt, a deep heave from Allen, was too strong as it hit the top of the glass and Oregon escaped with a 67-64 win to claim its fifth straight victory and a spot as the third-best team in the Pac-12.
Duarte came up clutch at the end of the game for Oregon (14-4, 9-3) and made the team's final 6 points — three free throws and a 3-pointer — to hold off Utah (9-10, 6-9). He finished with 15 points, four rebounds and two assists as one of three players to score in double figures for the Ducks.
LJ Figueroa also had 15 points as well as three rebounds and two assists, and Eugene Omoyuri finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists before fouling out with 3:29 left to play.
Utah had several opportunities late in the game to overtake the home team, but struggled to convert easy buckets at the rim as Oregon sped up the Utes and the ball rolled out or was short on multiple attempts. Still, Utah held strong and kept Oregon from blowing open a lead in a game Utah was expected to lose by double digits — Oregon never led by more than 5 points.
Utah eventually built up a 3-point lead with 2:36 left on a pair of made free throws from Allen before Duarte and Figueroa hit a pair of 3-pointers to flip the lead back to Oregon. But Utah's Alfonso Plummer equalized with a 3-pointer of his own to tie the game.
Duarte would later make one of two free throws to give the Ducks a 1-point lead. With 27 seconds left to play, Plummer attempted to get some separation from a defender on a step-back, but lost the ball out of bounds and was forced to foul Duarte on the inbounds. The pair of late turnovers were enough to sink Utah's chances in a game within grasp.
"I really loved our effort, the focus, the energy that the guys brought," Krystkowiak said. "We had a few turnover issues. I think we should have passed the ball a few more times at the end of the game to get open shots, to open guys, but overall it was tremendous. Our guys didn't have any quit in them, as opposed to Thursday night."
Plummer led Utah with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three, and Allen added 15 points, three rebounds and three assists in the loss.
Utah was again without the service of guard Rylan Jones (shoulder injury) for the fourth consecutive game and forward Mikael Jantunen, who returned from Europe early Saturday morning but was required to undergo a quarantine period before joining up with the team.
Krystkowiak said after the game he's still not sure when Jantunen will be cleared to play with the team again, but will await news from the university officials who can give clearance as it relates to COVID-19 procedures.
Utah returns to the floor Thursday as it welcomes UCLA to the Huntsman Center at 6 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.