PORTLAND – The game between top-ranked Duke and Oregon was merely a formality for the first on-court meeting of Blue Devils star Kyle Singler and his little brother E.J., a sophomore forward for the Ducks.
And for Kyle, it was even more: His first chance to play in his home state since leaving for Durham, N.C.
“Every moment I was out there I was trying to soak it all in,” the elder Singler brother said. “Trying to look at the signs, trying to find the people I knew in the stands. I was focused in and trying to win, but the environment was great.”
He made the most of it, with 30 points and five rebounds to lead Duke to a 98-71 victory Saturday.
The game was dubbed by one fan as “The Singler Mingler.” The brothers grew up in Medford, Ore., about 275 miles to the south of where the game was played at the Rose Garden.
The eventual outcome didn’t much matter when the brothers hugged tightly after the game.
“It was definitely fun,” E.J. Singler said. “One of the funnest games I’ve ever played in.”
The younger Singler scored 14 points, all in the second half, for UO (4-2).
It was the first time the Singlers played against each other, and the first time they were on the same court in a real game since they led South Medford High to the state championship in 2007.
The game marked the 27th time the Ducks have faced a No. 1 team and Oregon is 3-24 with all the wins against UCLA.
It was the first meeting between the schools. The game was well-attended by Duke fans, and many of those at the game sported the gear of both teams – including the Singler family.
“They were making half-Duke shirts, half-Oregon shirts,” E.J. said. “I think they had fun with that.”