The 7-Seed Oregon Ducks pulled off the upset in dominating fashion when they beat the 2-Seed Iowa Hawkeyes 95 to 80 in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament this morning.
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - Oregon’s top four scorers made an impressive debut performance in the Big Dance after their first scheduled opponent was forced to forfeit due to COVID-19 protocol. Chris Duarte (23 points), LJ Figueroa (21 points), Will Richardson (19 points) and Eugene Omoruyi (17 points) all played big minutes and helped keep the tempo up against an Iowa team that was ill-prepared to handle Oregon’s offensive attack.
To the surprise of no one, senior Luka Garza (candidate for Player of the Year) was the game’s leading scorer, finishing with 36 points and nine rebounds. Dana Atlman’s strategy going into this game was to focus on limiting Iowa’s other key players, and Garza’s lone assist of the contest is a good indicator that the strategy was successful.
Richardson scored the first bucket of the contest, but early on it was a fast-paced, back-and-forth affair between the two veteran squads. A triple from starter Eric Williams Jr. — who was the only Duck starter not to reach double-digit points scored by tallying a respectable nine points — gave Oregon their first two-possession lead with 13:19 left to play in the opening half.
However, the Hawkeyes rallied to reclaim the lead with a jumper from Joe Wieskamp to make the score 34 to 33, then Garza responded to a short Duck run by nailing a triple and then adding an and-one to put Iowa up by four with 4:29 left to play before the half. But Oregon closed out strong by putting together an 18-4 run before retiring to the lockers for the half.
After Garza’s and-one near the end of the first half Iowa never managed to reclaim the lead. In fact, after Wieskamp hit a triple to kick off scoring in the second half and cut the lead to seven the Hawkeyes never managed to get any closer to catching up with the Ducks for the remainder of the game.
One of the reasons why Oregon was able to pull away late in the game is due to the play of a couple of big men from off the bench. Chandler Lawson and Franck Kepnang recorded solid minutes and the latter turned out to be a game-changer coming into the second half. Kepnang tallied four points, one rebound, one assist and two blocked shots, and the freshman will likely play an increased role as the Ducks continue their march through madness.
The Ducks shot 55.9 percent from the floor and 44.0 percent from three, while limiting the Hawkeyes to 45.6 percent from the floor and 32.0 percent from deep. Oregon set a program record by scoring 95 points for the first time in a NCAA Tournament game. The Ducks have reached the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the last five NCAA Tournaments.
The Ducks await the results of the USC-Kansas game to determine who they will play in the Sweet 16. As of the time of this writing, every Men’s PAC-12 team in the tournament has won their matchup.