We are less than 24 hours away from No. 1 Kansas vs No. 3 Oregon in the 2017 NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Final. With that, we can not help but to look back at previous match-ups in their history. In 2002, the Jayhawks and Ducks met twice in a calendar year.
Aside from the current team, the 2002 Oregon Ducks were my other favorite team in school history. Luke Jackson, Luke Ridnour and Fred Jones made up one of the best trifectas in college basketball that year.
It seems very familiar. The Midwest Regional Final of 2002, then No. 1 Kansas vs then No. 2 Oregon. The only difference was that Elite Eight took place in Madison, Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, KU walked away with the convincing 18-point win over the Ducks, 104-86. Let’s hope this years finale is much different.
The Jayhawks advanced to the 2002 Final Four on the back of Nick Collison’s 25 points. The former NBA product ripped down 15 boards, as well.
Former Chicago Bull, Kirk Hinrich recorded 14 points, nine rebounds, five stolen passes, two assists and a blocked shot in the KU triumph.
Another former NBA product, Drew Gooden added 18 points and 20 huge boards.
Jones led the way for 26-9 Oregon with a game-high 32 points. He added four steals, four dimes, two boards and a blocked shot. Jones was 13-for-23 from the floor that night.
Ridnour struggled from the field with a 3-for-13 shooting performance. The point guard contributed nine points, seven assists, three boards and three stolen passes.
Jackson had a quiet night, going 3-for-7 from the field. He tallied seven points, seven boards and two dimes in the losing effort.
The Ducks snatched their opportunity for revenge on KU during the following regular season. On Dec. 7, 2002 then No. 7 Oregon defeated then No. 14 Kansas in Portland, 84-78.
Ridnour was the hero in the rematch victory with 25 points, nine dimes and seven boards.
Jackson was his usual self in the second battle against KU, amassing 26 points and nine rebounds. The win moved Oregon to 5-0 on the young season.
“This was like a March game,” Ridnour said after the game. “It will be good for us down the road.”
It wasn’t. The 23-10 team went on to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. We don’t need to talk about that anymore.
Kirk Hinrich led the way for Kansas (3-3) with 24 points. Keith Langford poured in 21 of his own.
“They did put us out last year,” said Ridnour. “And that sticks with you all summer.”
The game was played before 20,762 fans at the Rose Garden Arena.
The victory snapped Oregon's three-game losing streak against Kansas. The Ducks had not defeated the Jayhawks since beating them twice in the 1947-48 season.
That was the final season of the Roy Williams era at KU. The Jayhawks went on to lose five more games that year, concluding their season at 30-8. They fell in the National Championship to Carmelo Anthony’s Syracuse team, 81-78.
The Ducks beat a great team that season. Let’s keep the momentum going, some 15 years later in Kansas City.
The 2017 version of No. 3 Oregon (32-5) is ready for the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks (31-4) in the Midwest Regional Final. The Elite Eight showdown will tip at 5:49 p.m. PT on Saturday from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The “KU home game” will be televised on TBS.