LAS VEGAS -- For the first time in Pac-12 history both tournament semifinal games went into overtime.
The margin between the top four teams was slim and the margin for error within those games was even slimmer.
But just before the clock struck midnight, the final was set -- No. 1 seed Oregon vs. No. 2 seed Utah -- two teams that have steadily climbed through the conference, have peaked at the perfect times and will look to extend their respective winning streaks (Oregon: seven games; Utah: nine games) through the Pac-12 title game (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET).
"Every coach aspires to do that -- we've talked about it from the beginning of the season," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said about how his team during this final stretch. "What you go through is a sequence of maybe you get exposed along the way, things you don't do a good job of. ...We addressed those things in practice and our guys focus on it and you hope to learn enough of those lessons throughout the year."
And both Utah and Oregon have learned their lessons.
The Utes learned in a loss to Stanford that they couldn't miss their free throws (against Cal they shot 81 percent). In a loss to Cal in the regular season they learned what happens when you don't score late. In two losses to the Ducks during the regular season they learned the importance of getting the ball to Jakob Poeltl to get their offense running and in a loss to the Beavers they were reminded to take care of the ball.
The Ducks lacked leadership in a Pac-12 loss to Oregon State and they struggled defensively in a loss to Colorado. In losses to both Cal and Stanford, coach Dana Altman said Oregon didn't come out with enough energy.
The Ducks showed against Arizona that was no longer a problem.
"We came out and jumped right on them at the beginning," Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey said. "That's what we needed to do."
So now in the final game of the Pac-12 season both coaches are hoping their teams have learned those lessons and will apply them to the conference title game.
Utah will need to keep up with the Ducks' scoring and a big part of that will be getting Poeltl the ball inside. The Utes can't turn the ball over because the Ducks can go on scoring runs.
Likewise, Oregon can't come out sluggish against Utah. The Utes return four of five starters from the Sweet 16 team last season and their postseason experience could prove vital in the trek to a Pac-12 tournament title.
It'll be the final conference test for two teams that have taken their lumps and proved that they learned. The question on Saturday will be, which team learned those lessons deeper? By the end of the night, that'll be the one that has extended its win streak and enters the NCAA tournament with that much more momentum.