Underappreciated Ducks easy winners
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Pac-12 tournament champions. No. 12 seed. Underdogs.
Oregon is happy to carry any label it’s given in the NCAA tournament – all the way into the round of 16.
Damyean Dotson scored 23 points, Carlos Emory added 14 points and the hot-shooting Ducks sprinted past fourth-seeded Saint Louis 74-57 on Saturday night.
“We just decided as a team we’re going to go out there and we don’t care who we’re going to play,” said Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi, who had eight points and 16 rebounds.
Dotson made his first five 3-pointers to propel Oregon (28-8) into the second weekend for the first time since 2007, when it lost to eventual repeat champion Florida in the regional final. The Ducks made 8 of 11 shots from beyond the arc, while the Billikens finished 3 for 21 from long range.
After the NCAA selection committee turned some heads for seeding Oregon so low, the Ducks dismissed two favorites by a combined 30 points in San Jose. Oregon will play No. 1 overall seed Louisville in the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis next. The Cardinals routed Colorado State 82-56 in Lexington, Ky.
“I’m excited but, man, it’s just great to get to see those guys in the locker room all fired up,” Ducks coach Dana Altman said. “And for our fans that have waited for this, and for our state, it’s good.”
Not so much for Saint Louis.
Kwamain Mitchell scored 18 points and Dwayne Evans had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Billikens (28-7), who set a school record for wins this season following the death of coach Rick Majerus in December. Instead of a storybook finish, Saint Louis settled for another third-round exit.
The Billikens lost in the round of 32 last year to No. 1 seed Michigan State after snapping a 12-year NCAA tournament drought. The deepest run the school ever made was to the quarterfinals in 1952, when there were only 16 teams in the tournament.
“It’s been a good ride this year,” said Evans, fighting back tears. “Probably one of the funnest years of basketball I’ve ever played. And it’s had the most adversity, so it’s ironic.”
Oregon’s size and speed just overwhelmed Saint Louis from the start.
The Ducks’ defense extended into a full-court press, forcing Saint Louis to play faster than it wanted. A series of stops provided easy breakaways for Oregon.