Oregon bludgeoned Utah Saturday night at Matthew Knight Arena for a massive, possibly even season-saving win.

With the Runnin’ Utes coming to town, the Ducks kicked off a stretch of five games against the five teams either tied with or ahead of them on the Pac-12’s leaderboard. A win over Utah wouldn’t just help the Ducks’ chances of securing a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, but it would also go a long way toward helping out the NCAA Tournament résumé.

And what did the Ducks get? They got a game-high 18 points from Jermaine Couisnard. They got 12 points and seven assists from Will Richardson. They got nine points and 10 boards from N’Faly Dante. And they got a 68-56 win to move to 13-9 and 7-4 in Pac-12 play.

The Ducks are 1.5 games back of first place in the Pac-12. They’re a half-game back in the win column from overtaking Utah for fourth.

Utah lost sharpshooter Gabe Madsen just two minutes into the game with what appeared to be a lower leg injury, but quickly composed itself as things went back and forth through the first 10 minutes. It was a two-point game with 9:04 to play in the first half.

An 11-0 run from the Ducks blew the game open, and Oregon kept its distance from then on. The lead got as large as 16 in the second half.

Couisnard was excellent on the offensive end, as was Richardson from a playmaking standpoint — even if he did shoot 5-for-15 from the field. Equally impressive was the Ducks’ performance on the other end of the floor.

They held Utah to 28% shooting from the field. If not for 16 made free throws, the scoreline would have looked much uglier when the final buzzer sounded. Utah star Branden Carlson shot 2-of-14 from the field. He reached 13 points, but nine of those came at the free throw line. Oregon fairly effectively limited his impact.

And it held Utah to a season-worst shooting percentage. The 28% field goal clip was both the worst by Utah this season and the worst by an Oregon opponent this season. Utah missed 11 straight shots in the first half and then closed the game out with misses on 13 of its final 15 attempts.

With a trip to Arizona to take on the defending Pac-12 champs and a reeling Arizona State squad, the Ducks are hitting their stride at the right time. They’ve now won four of their last five.

Oregon takes on the Wildcats on Thursday (7:30 p.m. PT, ESPN).

Utah (15-8, 8-4 Pac-12) saw its three-game winning streak come to an end. The Utes are now 5-6 away from the Huntsman Center this season. They return home next week to host Stanford on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT.