Looking to reach the first Elite Eight since 2007 the Oregon Ducks were matched up against the defending champion Duke Blue Devils.
With both teams starting out in a zone it took the teams a minute to get into the swing of things. Elgin Cook broke through for the first points of the game after a minute and a half with a layup. Duke responded with four quick points by Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard to claim the lead. Following a monster slam from Cook the score was tied with 15:30 to play.
One of my keys to the game was to get Marshall Plumlee into foul trouble in the early going. Oregon did just that as with a two point lead, Cook drew a charge on Plumlee to pick up his second foul with just over 14 minutes to play.
Oregon came out of the break with a bang on an alley oop from Dillon Brooks to Jordan Bell. After four straight Duke points, Bell claimed the quick response for the Ducks with an and-one finish. At the under-12 media timeout Oregon held an 11-8 lead.
Tyler Dorsey got on the board for the first time with a three out of the timeout. Following that the Ducks rattled off four more points to take the eight-point lead. The returning Plumlee finally broke the slide for the Blue Devils.
With the slide broken, Duke went for a few straight to go down just one until Brooks broke the run with a dunk. Following a rapid fury of threes from both squads followed up by a transition layup by Kennard, Duke reclaimed a 27-26 lead with 5:44 to play.
Brooks made one of the plays of the half as out of the break he nailed a buzzer beating three to reclaim the lead. With a free-throw from Cook and a swat on Ingram by Bell leading to foul shots by Tyler Dorsey, the Oregon lead was at three going into the final media timeout of the first half.
Bell continued his hot first half with a big swat of Kennard at the rim. With an Ingram finish, Duke had tied the game back at 31 with a minute to play. But thanks to an up and under from bell the Oregon lead was snagged again. After three straight Oregon free throws the lead was 36-31 at half time.
At halftime, four different Duke players had two fouls while Benjamin and Dorsey each had two for Oregon. Oregon led the first half rebounding battle with a 20-15 advantage. Free throw shooting was one of the keys at the half for Oregon as the Ducks only hit six of ten first shots. Brooks led Oregon at the half with his 12 points while Bell trailed with nine points, four rebounds and two blocks off the bench.
A three-point shootout was underway to start the second half. Casey Benson nailed two threes, with a Grayson Allen three sandwiched in between. Following a Chris Boucher dunk the Oregon lead was up to ten. However after an and-one finish by Allen, Chris Boucher was sent to the bench with three fouls. At the first media timeout of the second half, the Oregon lead was 46-40.
Dillon Brooks led the Ducks out of the timeout with a stretch of a long jumper followed up by an assist to a Bell dunk. With a Bell rejection leading to an outlet dunk by Cook the Blue Devils were forced into a timeout down 11 with 14:26 to play.
Trying to switch things up, Duke came out of the half in a 1-2-2 zone. Oregon’s first few possessions were a success as after an and-one finish by Cook, the lead was 57-43. After a Duke basket, the Oregon lead was 12 at the under-12 minute media timeout.
Jordan Bell continued his scorching game following the timeout with yet another and-one finish. After that the whistles were out to get the Ducks with three straight foul calls on one Duke possession. At the under-eight minute timeout the Oregon lead was 63-52.
After an Oregon turnover leading to two more Allen free throws the lead was back to single digits. Following two more misses by Boucher the Ducks defense capitalized to get the ball back. Boucher repented for his sins with a strong finish at the rim to get another foul on Plumlee. Dorsey reclaimed the momentum with a three to extend the lead to 14. After another defensive stop, Dillon Brooks nailed a huge three to bring Oregon a 72-56 lead. After a Kennard layup the Oregon lead was 72-58 at the final media timeout of the game.
A Benson layup brought the Ducks out of the timeout to bring the lead up to 16 until a Matt Jones three cut it back to 13. The man of the second half, yes Casey Benson, came out of the timeout to nail yet another three. With two straight Duke three pointers the lead was ten with 1:32 to play.
Brooks continued to make things interesting missing the front end of one-and-one’s. But the Ducks took the easier route to finish with an alley oop from Dorsey to Boucher. With a Brooks three to close the game, the Oregon Ducks knocked off the Duke Blue Devils 82-68 to advance to the Elite Eight. In the matchup, Oregon will take on the two seeded Oklahoma Sooners, be on the lookout tomorrow for my in depth breakdown of the Sooners. The Elite Eight appearance will be Oregon’s first since the 2007 appearance. With the win, Oregon set the school record for 31 wins in a season, with hopefully more to come!
Jordan Bell. By now you probably know how I love Jordan Bell’s game. Well now the rest of the country knows about his game. Bell was lights out tonight with his 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks off the bench. Bell is a fantastic compliment to Boucher and I think he has an opportunity for a huge role against Oklahoma.
Three point defense. One of the biggest question marks coming in to the game was how would Oregon handle the three point shooting of the Blue Devils. Well when all was said and done, the Ducks locked down the Duke offense to 7-22 shooting from behind the arc.
Assists. The 22 assists for the Ducks set a season high. Casey Benson was large in this as he dished out 8 assists. Benson was composed the whole game against the Blue Devils pressure and did an amazing job breaking the press and dishing the ball to the open man.
Oregon top performers
Dillon Brooks. 22 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds
Elgin Cook, 16 points, 9 rebounds
Jordan Bell, 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks