KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No. 3 Oregon dominated No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, in the Midwest Regional Final on Saturday night from the Sprint Center. The Ducks move their incredible record to 33-5 after a dismantling of the Jayhawks in the 2017 Elite Eight. With the massive victory, Oregon will be heading to the Final Four for their first time in 78 years.
The 1939 National Championship team was the last Oregon squad to advance this far. We know it’s a special game whenever we mention the ‘39 team.
Oregon’s 33 wins in 2016-17 are the MOST in program history.
Jordan Bell, enough said? He was the difference maker in this one, as the Long Beach native dominated. He was the star of all stars on Saturday evening, silencing the partisan Kansas crowd of 18,643.
The junior registered a game-high 13 rebounds, 11 points, a school record eight blocked shots and four assists. When the lights were at their brightest, Bell emerged as the best basketball player on the floor. His NBA stock is skyrocketing as we speak.
“I just come in with the mindset to do my job, know my role,” said Bell. “My role is to rebound, block shots. I think I did a heck of a job today.”
The Ducks held the best Big 12 shooting team to 35 percent from the floor. Let me repeat myself, Oregon forced KU into 21-of-60 from the field and just 20 percent (5-for-25) from downtown. Before Saturday’s affair, Kansas never trailed by more than 14 points in a game this season.
“It feels great, I’m so happy for our guys,” said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. “Ran out of gas there in the second half, but they found enough energy to finish it. I just feel great for our fans who supported us, but mostly for the guys.”
Oregon was incredible offensively, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 44 percent from deep. And Kansas was supposed to be the prolific team from the outside.
It was his fifth straight NCAA Tournament game with 12 rebounds or more.
“It feels amazing. I never had a feeling like this, I’ve never gotten this far in my life,” Bell said emotionally. “They sleep on us.”
Of course, no tournament story would be complete without a mention of Tyler “Mr. March” Dorsey. The sophomore guard scored a game-high 27 points, leading the way. Does this sound familiar?
“We been the underdog all three games and that’s the mentality we take,” Dorsey stated. “We love it. It was a great atmosphere. We sent all the Kansas fans home. I know they're upset because it was a home game.”
It was the seventh straight game with 20 points or more for Dorsey. He is the ONLY player in Oregon history to record 20 points or more in their first four NCAA Tournament games in a single season.
“We never been there, but we’re not done yet,” said the sophomore guard. “We want to put the banner up. There is only one banner at Oregon. They sleep on the west coast. We’re competitors. We love this game. We just went out, played basketball and had fun.”
He finished his efficient night 9-for-13 from the floor and was bailing out the offense routinely. Dorsey buried 6-for-10 from deep, including three game-changing triples. He added five boards.
Only Villanova (67) has more wins than Oregon (64) over the last two years. It had been 78 years since UO’s last Final Four appearance. Saturday’s victory ends the longest drought in NCAA Tournament history (77 years) between appearances.
“All the guys the last seven years at Oregon helped us build this,” said Altman. “I feel really happy for all of them. They fought it so hard, I’m so happy for them. It’s a great group of guys. Couldn't be happier for them.”
The Ducks led the Jayhawks entering the locker room, 44-33, by 11 points. Dorsey concluded the half with a deep 3-pointer off the backboard. Don't worry, he called glass.
“I’m just so happy for my teammates,” said Dorsey. “We worked so hard for this. We left it all out on the court.”
At the half, Bell had eight rebounds, four points and four blocked shots. He was in full “Beast Mode” to start the ballgame.
Oregon increased the lead to 18 points at one point in the second half. Yet, Kansas made their expected run.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk buried a triple from the corner, cutting the Jayhawk deficit, 66-60, to six points. It was KU’s first 3-pointer in the second half. Yet, that is as close as it would get. The Ducks would not relent.
Dillon Brooks had his moments of greatness with 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting from the floor. He drilled three monumental buckets from behind the arc. DB added five boards, four dimes and a stolen pass. He began to cramp at the end of the game, but valiantly battled through it.
Dylan Ennis was the fourth starter to score in double figures. The senior was superb all night, recording 12 points, two boards and two stolen passes.
The frontrunner for National Player of the Year, Frank Mason III was the only offense KU had in the first half. He finished with a team-high 21 points after 17 first-half tallies. Oregon locked him up in the second 20 minutes.
Josh Jackson was a non-factor in the first half with foul trouble. He didn't score his first point until the second half. The freshman ended the night with 10 points, 12 rebounds and five dimes. He was 3-for-8 from the floor and turned the ball over a game-high five times.
Fortunately for Kansas, Lagerald Vick stepped up off the bench with seven quick points in the first 10 minutes. However, the super-sub finished with those same seven tallies. Vick finished 2-for-8 from the field.
Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham entered play ablaze. He was averaging 20 points per game in the tournament and wasn’t missing from deep. On Saturday, Graham was held to three points on 0-for-7 shooting. He missed all six attempts from behind the arc.
Mykhailiuk was the only other player to score double digits with 10 points for KU.
Overall, Oregon won the rebound margin, 36-32, after restraining second-chance points. Bell’s impact can not be understated. It was one of the greatest individual performances in college basketball history.
Next up for No. 3 Oregon (33-5) is No. 1 North Carolina (31-7) in the 2017 Final Four. Tip is set for 5:49 p.m. PT from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday. UO is seeking their first title appearance in 78 years. The game will be televised by CBS.
Tyler Dorsey Buries The Dagger Into Kansas as part of his game-high 27 points.