Eugene, Ore. • College basketball rosters change quickly, and players don’t always have a great sense of the history between programs. But Utah senior forward Tyler Rawson didn’t have to look far to realize how much Friday’s win over Oregon meant.
Utah (9-3, 1-0) snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Ducks on Friday night for its first win in Eugene since 1951. For Utah associate head coach and former point guard Tommy Connor, and his son and current Utah junior Jake, the drought stretched from one generation to the next.
“I know Coach Connor and Jake, they’ve been here forever and they’re excited to break the curse” Rawson said. “It was a great team win for us.”
There has been no such streak of futility for the Utes against Oregon State, but Gill Coliseum has been the site of some heartbreak for the Utes in recent years. They would love to give Oregon State (9-4, 1-0) its second home loss of the season when the team’s tangle at 4 p.m. MT Sunday.
Last season, Oregon State’s only conference win was at home against the Utes. The last two contests in Corvallis — both Beavers wins — have come by two points or less.
While Rawson played two minutes in last season’s loss to the Beavers, he showed Friday night how much of a difference-maker he can be this season. A 6-foot-10, 225-pound senior, Rawson finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against Oregon.
The Utes’ offensive surge to start the second half included scoring 11 points on their first six possessions as they overturned an eight-point halftime deficit. During that span, Rawson played a direct role in seven points.
When the Utes went on a 10-2 run to build a six-point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining, Rawson’s impact proved pivotal again as he scored or assisted on five of those points, and also came up with a steal and a rebound.
“I remember watching him back in high school at American Fork High School, and he was undersized, but he was one of those players that knew how to play the game,” Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “He made his teammates better. He made Ryan Andrus, who winded up going to BYU, a really good player in high-low stuff — passing it to him. He just had a great feel. Then he actually grew and put on some size a little bit later.”
Rawson goes into Sunday’s game as the team’s leader in rebounds (6.7 per game) and blocked shots (1.5 per game), ranks second in assists (4.0 per game) and the third-leading scorer (11.5 ppg) while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor.
His diverse skill set and ability to recognize and create scoring opportunities for others could make Rawson one of the most valuable players for the Utes as they dive into conference play with freshmen Donnie Tillman and Chris Seeley still inactive.
“He doesn’t do anything great, but he doesn’t have any deficiencies,” Krystkowiak said of Rawson. “He seems to find a way to kind of stuff the stat sheet from time to time. …
“He’s done a nice job with his body, putting on some pounds in the weight room. He has even continued that progression where he has grown since high school. He spent a lot of time on his back a year ago, trying to play power forward at this level. He’s put a nice 10 to 15 pounds and he’s playing the game pretty powerfully.”
UTAH AT OREGON STATE
Tipoff • Sunday, 4 p.m. MT
TV • Pac-12 Network
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 9-3, 1-0; Oregon State 9-4, 1-0
Series history • Utah leads 17-12
About the Beavers • Oregon State logged a 76-57 win over Colorado on Friday night. Stephen Thompson Jr. scored a team-high 24 points, while Tres Tinkle added 23 points, six assists and three steals. Drew Eubanks grabbed nine rebounds. … Tinkle, son of Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle, missed the final 26 games last season with a broken right wrist. This season, the 6-foot-8 forward has averaged 18.5 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 50.6 percent from the field (35.5 percent on 3-pointers).… Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle and Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak are former teammates at Montana, and Tinkle served as an assistant on Krystkowiak’s staff at Montana.
About the Utes • Utah had four players with 10 points or more inFriday night’s win at Oregon. Senior guard Justin Bibbins led the way with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Sedrick Barefield (16 points),David Collette (11 points) and Tyler Rawson (10 points) joined him in double figures. … Barefield’s 16 points were his most since he scored 22 in the season opener against Prairie View A&M. … Sophomore center Jayce Johnson has played more than 20 minutes in back-to-back games. Johnson has averaged 17 minutes per game for the season, and has been a consistent rebounder with an average of 6.1 rebounds per game to go along with 6.6 points per game.