Friday, January 03, 2014

November 26, 1982 - Oregon State at Utah

Utah's had lots of good games against Oregon State over the years. I remember the first time I coached against the Beavers in Corvallis -- Slats Gill was their head coach at the time and the school had already named their arena after him. We lost that one, 65-63. And then there was the time we faced Oregon State in the 1966 NCAA Tournament. Jerry Chambers had 33 points and sent us to the Final Four.

But Utah's most memorable game against Oregon State came many years later. It was the season opener in 1982, and the Utes were coming off a disappointing 11-17 season. Oregon State, on the other hand, was coming off a 25-5 season where they won their third-straight Pac-10 title. When they arrived in Salt Lake in 1982, they were ranked as high as #7 in the national polls.

I recall the Beavers had two big stars at the time: Charlie Sitton and A.C. Green. Utah had Pace Mannion and 12,983 excited fans at the Special Events Center. But the player of the game, by far, was Utah's George Furgis. Furgis led Utah to a 11-6 lead out of the chute and scored 18 of Utah's first 24 points. 

But when Furgis sat down in foul trouble, Oregon State came back. They cut Utah's lead down to as little as three late in the half.

The second half began the same way. Furgis led the Utes out to another solid lead. When Manny Hendrix scored a layup with 8:01 remaining, the score was Utah 58, Oregon State 43. It was Utah's biggest lead of the game. It was also the last time the Utes would score in regulation.

The final eight minutes of regulation was a disaster for Utah. Turnovers ... penalties ... missed shots ... poor rebounding ... you name it. Before you knew it, Charlie Sitton was drilling a big shot to tie the score at 58 with :55 remaining. 

And then Utah threw away the inbounds pass!

The Beavers held the ball for the final shot. When that shot came, it was slightly off the mark. Oregon State got the offensive rebound, but the put-back was no good. Utah really, really bit the bullet there!

Utah would settle themselves and get back to basics in the overtime period. George Furgis once again took the lead; he would finish with 23 points on 7 for 10 shooting. Meanwhile, Sitton's shots stopped falling and Utah survived to a 68-62 overtime victory.

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