This game started exactly like it should. UNLV jumped out to a 9-2 lead behind the play of their uptempo offense, raucous crowd and stellar freshman, Anthony Bennett. Altman quickly called a timeout and adjusted the Ducks. Oregon slowed things down with their match up zone and went to a soft 3/4 court press. UNLV never knew what hit them as the Ducks put on a 23-7 run of their own with steals, rebounds and timely 3's.
Late in the half, UNLV was able to close the difference behind the inside play of true freshman Anthony Bennett and big time shots of Justin Hawkins. Oregon struggled with foul trouble and needed everyone on their bench to contain the inside play of the Rebels, but were able to close the half with a 3 point lead.
The second half started exactly like the first. UNLV put on a quick 8-2 run to take a 45-42 lead, but Oregon didn't back down. Ben Carter was relentless down low fighting for offensive rebounds and ended the game with 4. Arsalan Kazemi was crafty at the mid post spot picking and choosing when to attack off the dribble and when to back his guy down. At the guards, Artis came up huge with his 11 points and timely shots. The game however belonged to 2 guys.
Carlos Emory was his late 2011 season self. He scrapped for lose balls. He filled in nicely for a foul troubled and off night shooting EJ Singler at the small forward. He ended with 16 points, 9 rebounds and a clutch pull up with 1:05 left that tied the game.
Then there was Damyean Dotson. Dotson led the Ducks with 19 points, and none better than the spinning jump hook in the lane he made with :19 left that gave Oregon the victory. He would tack 2 more on with free throws, but when Oregon needed someone to create their own shot, get into the lane and force the action, Dotson was the guy. The combination of Dotson and Artis in the back court gives Oregon a formidable duo for teams to deal with considering the size down low the Ducks have as well.
Oregon takes on Cincinnati that advanced to the finals earlier today, Saturday at 7:30pm PT. If Oregon is able to play like they did tonight, expect to see the Ducks in the top 25 rankings for the first time in forever come next week.
What a great day to be a Ducks basketball fan.