Saying the 2016-17 Oregon basketball season was memorable is an understatement. This 33-6 campaign will go down as the greatest season in program history. We would be remiss to move forward without looking back at this unprecedented Duck run.
Lindy’s Magazine projected UO as their No. 1 overall team in the nation entering the season. The Ducks began their incredible path ranked No. 4 by the Associated Press. It was the highest ranking in school history.
Unfortunately, Oregon never crept above the 4-spot. However, they ended the 2017 college basketball season as the No. 5 overall squad in the land. That is consistency.
The Ducks concluded the season with the longest home win-streak nationally (42). For the season, UO was 17-0 at Matthew Knight Arena. The last time they lost from MKA was in January, 2015 to Arizona, 80-62.
These are the best 10 moments from the 2016-17 season, in my opinion. Obviously, we would love to hear your favorite memories from the year, as well. Without further adieu, here are my Top 10 Oregon Basketball Moments:
10. The 2017 Final Four
Had the results been different, this would’ve garnered the No. 1 spot on the list. Nevertheless, you have to appreciate the journey. Just a few years ago, UO was considered a “football school” by most. Fast forward seven years into Dana Altman’s tenure and the Ducks are now an elite basketball program.
It had taken 78 long years, but UO was finally back in the Final Four. North Carolina illustrated a great example of finishing what you start. There is a lesson to be learned from them.
9. Not So Civil Beatdown, Twice
It’s a good year when the Ducks dismantle Oregon State. It’s a great year when they do it twice! Oregon embarrassed the 1-win Pac-12 team by 42 points from MKA, 85-43, during their first meeting in January.
UO concluded the regular season with an 80-59 victory in Corvallis. The Ducks sealed the Pac-12 regular season crown for the first time in back-to-back seasons. It was their sixth overall crown and first league title won in the state of Oregon since 1945.
8. Trojan Streak Continues
Entering Eugene on December 30, USC was No. 22 in the country and had yet to lose a game (14-0). Not to mention, Oregon was playing on short rest after their emotional 2-point win, 89-87, vs No. 2 UCLA less than 48 hours prior. Regardless, it mattered little as Brooks was scorching with a game-high 28 points in the 84-61 drubbing. On February 11, Brooks and Tyler Dorsey combined for 39 points to extend UO’s win streak, 81-70, against the Trojans to 14 straight games.
7. Devilish Finish
Bobby Hurley’s team would not give in, as Arizona State pushed Oregon to the limit from MKA. In a possible “trap game” scenario with No. 5 Arizona on the horizon, Dillon Brooks once again emerged as the hero. His team-high 27 points led the way. In fact, the Canadian registered the final 12 points of the game to overtake the Sun Devils by the slimmest of margins, 71-70.
6. Bay Area Sweep
Dillon Brooks, enough said? The junior All-American and Pac-12 Player of the Year saved his best for last in Berkeley with a game-high 22 points. He capped a 16-point Oregon comeback in the second half with a buzzer-beating game-winner from deep with 0.2 seconds on the clock.
The Ducks slipped by Cal, 68-65. Oregon then escaped past Stanford, 75-73, a few days later on Cardinal Senior Day en route to the Bay Area sweep.
5. Wildcat Abuse
The 2015 loss to Arizona in Eugene stuck with the 2016-17 team, especially those who were apart of it like Brooks, Jordan Bell and Casey Benson. No. 5 Arizona was thrashed on February 4 of this year after entering the affair on a 15-game win streak. Dorsey led the way with a game-high 23 points, including six triples. Oregon shot a remarkable 65 percent from the floor and 64 percent (16-of-25) from downtown. The lopsided 27-point win, 85-58, was Oregon’s most complete performance of the regular season.
4. Eugene Hysteria
The Pac-12 regular season opened with a bang. No. 2 UCLA entered the showdown undefeated at 13-0. They were coming off their biggest win of the season against No. 1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena, 97-92, and confidence was high. This was Oregon’s first test of the year and they passed it with flying colors.
Brooks finished with a game-high 23 points against the Bruin freshman, Lonzo Ball. Not to mention, the Pac-12 Player of the Year ended the contest in style with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave UO the win, 89-87, with 0.8 seconds left in the game. The Ducks squeaked by to extend their nation-best winning streak to 34 games.
3. Hail To The Victors
No. 7 Michigan entered the 2017 NCAA Tournament as “America’s Team” following their near-tragic plane accident. The great story concluded in the Sweet 16 against No. 3 Oregon. Dorsey earned the nickname “Mr. March” with his continued success down the stretch, including a game-high 20 points vs the Wolverines. His game-winning bucket with 1:08 on the clock moved UO into the Elite Eight, 69-68. Bell dominated once again with 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots.
2. The “Rhode” Less Traveled
To enter the 2017 Sweet 16, Oregon had to overcome an 11-point deficit in the second half against a defensive No. 11 Rhode Island team. The Rams finalized the first half going 11-for-13 from the field. However, Dorsey would not be denied as he buried the eventual game-winner with 38.4 seconds.
The sophomore inked himself in tournament history, shooting 90 percent from the field (9-for-10). His game-high 27 points propelled the resilient Ducks to victory, 75-72, and into the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.
He was the first player in Oregon history to record 20 points or more in their first five tournament games in a single season. Dorsey concluded his season scoring 20 points or more in eight straight games.
1. Rock Duck
Not many people envisioned No. 1 Kansas being beaten, especially by a team nobody thought would survive without their leader, Chris Boucher. No. 3 Oregon not only defeated the Jayhawks, they dominated them from start to finish, 74-60. A partisan Kansas crown of 18,000-plus was silenced by Jordan Bell and his cartoonish heroics.
The Long Beach product recorded one of the greatest games in tournament history. Bell swatted away eight shots for an Oregon program record. The junior finished with 13 boards, 11 points, eight blocked shots and four assists. Dorsey was all the offense UO needed with a game-high 27 points on 9-for-13 from the floor.
With their most complete performance of the season, Oregon entered the Final Four for only the second time in program history. The Ducks followed up their Elite Eight appearance of 2016 with a Final Four appearance in 2017.
Should this natural progression continue, Oregon is looking at a 2018 National Championship appearance. Trust, we will all be watching. Thanks for the 2016-17 memories, boys!