The Oregon Ducks fought hard, but they just couldn't overcome Louisville's bursts. Oregon whittled an 18-point halftime deficit down to 6, but were unable to get any closer in a 77-69 Cardinal victory.
Oregon was extremely shaky early, as Louisville dominated the paint en route to an early 24-8 lead. 20 of the Cardinals' 24 points came in the paint, and both Oregon's defense and rebounding was really poor as Louisville dominated the opening stretch. Oregon finally settled down, and attempted to get the game back under control, but Russ Smith was getting the Dwayne Wade treatment, plowing into the lane and getting bailed out consistently on calls so bad that even analyst Clark Kellogg was openly questioning the officials on multiple occasions. The Ducks closed to ten, and threatened to make it single digits going into halftime, but a disastrous final minute capped by a Wayne Blackshear three extended the Cardinal lead to 14 at the half.
The Ducks came out in the second half and immediately cut the deficit to 8, before Smith led the Cardinals on a 10-0 run to push the lead to 18. Oregon bore down again and cut it to six with five minutes to go, before Smith took over with layin after layin to hold off the Duck charge.
We said that Oregon needed to keep to under 15 turnovers to have a chance, and they had only 12 against the Louisville pressure. But Oregon didn't win the rebounding battle by enough (only by one) and, more importantly, played really subpar halfcourt defense, consistently allowing Louisville to get easy shots at the rim. Smith went 9-16 from the field, and another 11-12 from the line, for 31 points. Only one of those shots was not at the rim, as the Ducks, regardless of who they put on Smith, were unable to provide any resistance.
Oregon was clearly overwhelmed at the beginning of the game, but fought back continuously and at least made you feel that they could give it a good run. Oregon would have had a great shot at this if they had rebounded or played defense just a little better, but were unable to do so. E.J. Singler had 15 points in his final game, and Arsalan Kazemi had a double double with 11 points and 12 boards.
It's unfortunate that Oregon couldn't pull off the upset. But it was a great season, and there is no doubt that this program is back on the right track. To E.J. Singler, Arsalan Kazemi, Carlos Emory, and Tony Woods, thank you for an incredible run, and you will be missed. For the other guys, you've now seen big boy basketball. Keep this in your mind all offseason and, when you're here again, finish it.Oregon makes several comeback attempts after an early deficit, but are unable to hold off Russ Smith as Louisville finishes off the Ducks, 77-69.