Oregon showcased its offensive ability in its first NCAA tournament game, as the No. 7 seed defeated No. 10 BYU 87-68 on Thursday.
With the win, the squad will move onto the round of 32 to face No. 2 Wisconsin in the West Region.
Elgin Cook had a monster game for the Ducks off the bench, scoring 23 points with eight rebounds after scoring double figures just once in his previous 23 games.
He also had one huge slam in the second half:
Joseph Young quietly contributed a strong effort with 19 points in the win.
BYU had four players in double figures, but Tyler Haws only managed 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting after averaging 23.4 per game coming into the tournament. The Cougars finished with just a 32.8 percent mark from the floor.
Oregon—which has not been great defensively this season—excelled on that side of the ball in the first half to build up an early lead, as noted by ESPN:
Oregon holds BYU to 9-32 (28.1%) shooting. The Ducks lead 39-31 at the half. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 20, 2014
The Ducks led by as much as 15 in the first half but BYU did a good job of keeping the score close, with the score 39-31 at halftime in favor of Oregon.
This ability to hang around was seen after intermission as well after Oregon built the lead up to 49-37 within the first few minutes. However, a couple of three-point shots by Matt Carlino got the Cougars back in the game:
BYU just cut it to 56-53 on a Matt Carlino 3-pointer. Not a lot of defense being played in this one.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 20, 2014
Bryan Fischer of NFL.com noted that Oregon appeared to be the squad that struggled mightily in January and early February before turning it on late:
Middle of the year Oregon showing up now. BYU playing inspired and down just three. Fun second half ahead it looks like.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) March 20, 2014
However, the Ducks were able to get back on track and ended the game with a 31-15 run to advance in March Madness.
BYU was shorthanded from the start of the game without guard Kyle Collinsworth. The sophomore was the team's second-leading scorer and led the Cougars in assists in rebounds as well. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in the West Coast Conference tournament.
Head coach Dave Rose discussed the effect this had on his team, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
The feel in the gym (the next day) was basically everybody feeling sorry for Kyle or maybe feeling sorry for themselves. But the fact that we've been able to have three, four practices and then the shot of adrenaline on Sunday being in the tournament and having a second-round game instead of a first-round (game)....
The last couple of practices have really been great.
Despite this excitement entering the day, BYU struggled offensively without one of its best players. Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com noticed this immediately:
There's no question BYU misses Kyle Collinsworth a bunch. Settling for a bunch of threes, no real flow to the offense. Tough break. #GoDucks— Rob Moseley (@GoDucksMoseley) March 20, 2014
Andy Glockner of Sports Illustrated felt that this should have altered the team's seed:
I don't want to bang on BYU too hard -- it's not their fault the cmte gave them a ridiculous 10-seed w/o Collinsworth.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 20, 2014
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports also did not think the Cougars deserved this spot in the bracket:
Misseeded and proving it: Colorado, BYU— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) March 20, 2014
BYU was able to keep the score close for much of the contest, but in the end the team just did not have enough offensive firepower to match Oregon. Although it is unknown if Collinsworth would have been the difference in this matchup, it is clear he would have helped.
Still, the Ducks deserve plenty of credit for a great effort on both ends of the court, led by a career game by Cook.
No. 2 Wisconsin now awaits in the third round after cruising past American 75-35 in its first game. Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated highlighted how dominant the Badgers were in the win:
Meanwhile, Wisconsin is on a 40-8 run. It’s like what would happen if the Badgers showed up for the noon run at the Milwaukee YMCA.— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) March 20, 2014
Oregon can obviously provide a bigger offensive test compared to the Patriot League champs. The Ducks entered the tournament with the No. 11 offense in the country with 81.8 points per game and proved with their latest win that they can score in different ways.
If they can make their shots, the Ducks have a chance to pull off the upset in what will be a high-scoring battle.
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