The Ducks and Damyean Dotson were tasked with facing one of the most dynamic players in the country in Marcus Smart and passed their initial test with flying colors. Damyean Dotson led all scorers with 17 and Arsalan Kazemi had another double double totaling 11 points and 17 rebounds as the Ducks defeated the 5 seed Oklahoma State 68-55 Thursday. Markel Brown had 16 and Smart contributed 14 in the season ending loss. Coach Altman felt rebounding won the game for the Ducks stating, "We were able to beat them [by] 12 on the boards, and I feel that was the difference in the game...we wanted to be aggressive on the boards and I think our guys did a great job of that."
The Ducks led through much of the first half, paced by Damyean Dotson's 11 and 10 from Arsalan Kazemi. On defense, the Ducks were able to stymie Marcus Smart only allowing 6 points on 2-5 shooting and did not score until more than 12 minutes into the period. Oregon used an 8-0 run midway through the period to give them a 7 point advantage and throughout the first wouldn't see their lead shrink to less than 3. It seemed like whenever the Cowboys would make a run in the first, Oregon had an answer to push the lead back to double digits. The Ducks had last shot going into the half and Damyean Dotson would air ball a three but Arsalan Kazemi was there to corral the miss and flip it in from under the basket to beat the buzzer and send the Ducks to the locker room with a 37-26 lead. Oregon out rebounded the Cowboys 23-17 in the first half including 11 offensive boards.
The second half picked up much where Oregon left off, as the Ducks made the first two baskets of the half and never looked back. The Pokes never got closer than 10 as Oregon cruised in the second half to a 68-55 victory. Kazemi's fingerprints were all over the game as the Ducks owned the boards evenly in both halves. Kazemi said after the game, "Sometimes my team mates, they tell me that I grab their rebounds...I jump to get the ball. I apologize if I get their rebound, but I just jump to get it." Smart was neutralized through much of the game before scoring a couple late baskets in the closing minutes of the game and coach Altman touched on the effectiveness of his guards, "Our quickness was important. There's no doubt he's more physical and much more powerful than [Artis and Loyd] are, but I really believed they were quicker.
The Ducks live to play another day, now in the third round of the tournament. They will face off against the 4 seed Saint Louis Billikens who routed New Mexico State 64-44 in the early game on the day. On that game, Dwayne Evans scored 24 for SLU and was complimented off the bench with 12 and 11 from Cody Ellis and Cory Remekuin respectively. Dana Altman was complimentary of SLU calling them a well coached team and stated quite plainly that they "are going to have to play very well."
For the seniors on the squad, it is their first and only opportunity to get to the Sweet 16 and it will take a strong effort from them to potentially move on to Indianapolis. Oregon and Saint Louis face off on Saturday. The time is yet to be determined.