Some may not have considered it to be too big of an upset, but the Oregon Ducks absolutely torched the St. Louis Billikens in yesterday’s round of 32 matchup en route to a 74-57 blowout and a date with Louisville in the Sweet 16.
Needless to say, Oregon’s run has been amazing.
After faltering down the stretch in Pac-12 play and losing a shot at a share of the regular season conference title with UCLA, the Ducks have regrouped and won five straight games while claiming their first Pac-12 Tournament Championship since 2008.
And though that accomplishment is a great feat in itself, the way Oregon has disregarded their No. 12 seed in the tournament and played like the better program against No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 4 St. Louis has shown just how much potential the Ducks are dealing with on their roster.
If you watched last afternoon’s game, you were probably feeling a little uneasy at the start. While the Billikens also had a rough start to the game, the Ducks looked out of whack and a little sporadic at times.
Especially with senior E.J. Singler turning the ball over early and often, many may have been wondering if St. Louis was gearing up for a big run that would already send the Ducks out of the contest.That would not be so, however, as it was Oregon establishing dominance midway through the first half and subsequently throughout the rest of the game.
Using a full-court press to make the Billikens ramp up the speed of their offense–something they clearly did not want to do–the Ducks created enough pressure to force St. Louis into mistakes that led to Oregon breakaways and points.
The Ducks even closed out the first half with a Johnathan Loyd three right before the break that capped a 25-8 run by Oregon, giving them a 37-19 advantage at the end of one.
And though St. Louis would find a way to get things started on a good foot in the second half, the speed and pressure of the Ducks was too much for them, as Oregon shot 52.8% to lead them to a 74-57 victory.
Here is what we loved and hated form the contest.
Dotson Comes to Play
Damyean Dotson was phenomenal last night. Leading the Oregon charge with 23 points on the night, the freshman was a catalyst for the Ducks’ victory.
Playing 31-of-40 minutes last night, Dotson was also lights out from three-point range, hitting 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and 8-of-12 overall en route to his best performance of the year. He also contributed on the boards by hauling in three rebounds.
If his play is as impressive against Louisville, the Ducks could very well see their way into the Elite Eight.
Arsalan’s on Cruise Control
Arsalan Kazemi has been a monster this year for Oregon. But now, when the team needs him more than ever, the senior transfer is stepping up on the big stage and helping the Ducks forward their season. After hauling in 17 rebounds in the round of 64, Kazemi was equally impressive against the Billikens, grabbing 16 rebounds while adding four points, three assists, two steals and two blocks to his stats on the night.
Oregon’s 12 Seed
What once seemed to be the bane of all Oregon fans has now become a rallying point.
When the Ducks were originally selected as a twelve seed heading into the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, many fans of the team chastised the selection committee for disregarding Oregon–myself included.
But now Oregon fans would not have things any different. After seemingly heading into the tournament with a chip on their shoulder, the Ducks have played some of their best basketball en route to two upset wins in San Jose.
Artis Cools Off
After finally looking somewhat like his original self prior to his injury, Dominic Artis struggled to get anything going against St. Louis, missing several layups en route to 0-of-7 shooting from the field on Saturday.
E.J. Singler has been a staple of the Oregon basketball program for the past few years. Now in his last stint with the Ducks, many expect the senior to be one of the standouts on the team. And while he is a great leader and plays quite impressively at times–he racked up 14 points against St. Louis–his turnovers have been an issue as of late.
Singler turned the ball over eight times against the Billikens, with many of them coming during the early stages of the game when both teams were looking to capture any momentum.
If the Ducks want to keep their magical run going against Louisville, they will need Singler to figure out his grip on the ball and command the floor much better.