Oregon produced one of the most impressive team performances in the 2017 NCAA tournament as the Ducks beat Kansas, 74-60, in front of a pro-Jayhawks crowd at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday night.
The Ducks now advance to the Final Four for the first time since 1939, when they were known as the Webfoots and won the first-ever NCAA tournament.
Oregon shot 50.9 percent from the field and held Kansas to 35 percent shooting thanks in part to Jordan Bell. The energetic junior forward was a force down low, blocking a mind-boggling eight shots and grabbing 13 rebounds to go along with 11 points and four assists.
His dunk-and-block combination midway through the first half symbolized his performance Saturday:
Bell's defense clearly affected Kansas' ability to even attempt to enter the paint as ESPN's Jeff Borzello noted. Colleague Chad Ford also highlighted the big man's defensive prowess:
Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey and junior forward Dillon Brooks led the Ducks in scoring, posting 27 and 17 points, respectively.
Dorsey, who hit game-winning shots against Rhode Island and Michigan, is now averaging 24.5 points per game in the NCAA tournament. He also hit back-to-back three-pointers to close the first half, giving the Ducks a 44-33 lead, as NCAA March Madness relayed:
Kansas senior guard Frank Mason III did all he could to keep the Jayhawks in the game. He scored 15 straight Kansas points in the first half en route to posting 21 on the night. If you have ever played the video game NBA Jam, you might've noticed he was hotter than a player who caught fire:
The first half developed like a movie, with plot twists and turns every few minutes.
From the jump, it was clear that the vast majority of fans were pro-Kansas (understandably, as the arena is 45 minutes away from the KU campus). The crowd was a sea of blue with one lonely section of green for Oregon fans, as USA Today's George Schroeder and the Associated Press' Eric Olson illustrated:
The game got off to a sloppy start, with neither team finding an offensive rhythm and the contest lacking any sort of flow.
Then in the span of 17 seconds, Kansas freshman star Josh Jackson committed two fouls, and he found himself on the bench with 17:23 left in first half.
Understandably, Jackson was not happy, per B/R's CJ Moore and the Oregonian's John Canzano:
Sophomore guard Lagerald Vick came in for Jackson and helped keep Kansas in the game, scoring seven points.
However, the latter half of the first 20 minutes turned into a scoring exhibition. The Ducks began pouring in shots from the outside, making 60 percent of their field goals and seven of 12 three-pointers. Meanwhile, Mason was putting on a one-man show, as KCTV's Andrew Carter and Canzano noted:
Dorsey responded to Mason's torrid run by hitting those aforementioned three-pointers, and Oregon took an 11-point lead into halftime.
The Ducks stretched their lead to 55-37 following a Brooks three-pointer, but Kansas gradually chipped away at the Oregon advantage throughout the second half. After a scoreless first frame plagued by foul trouble, Jackson found a rhythm and put in a wild reverse layup to cut the Oregon lead to 11, via NCAA March Madness:
Jackson finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Kansas eventually cut the lead to 66-60 after a three-pointer from junior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, but Bell grabbed an offensive rebound on each of Oregon's two ensuing possessions. The first board led to another Dorsey three-pointer, and the second led to a Bell layup, effectively sealing the game.
The Ducks will now face either North Carolina or Kentucky in the Final Four on Saturday, April 1. The UNC-UK game will take place Sunday, March 26, at 5:05 p.m. ET on CBS.
Bell was understandably excited (and exhausted) in a postgame interview with Dana Jacobson of CBS, telling her, "It feels amazing. I never got this far in my life, man. They sleep on us."
Kenny "The Jet" Smith is high on the Ducks. He said the following during the postgame show: "If there is no size on the perimeter, we will see the Oregon Ducks cutting down the national championship nets."
Kansas head coach Bill Self credited UO's remarkable shooting, telling Jacobson, "Oregon played a great game. They shot the heck out of the ball...they were really good."
Mason was emotional after the game and had this to say to KU fans, via Carter: "I gave it my all every day and I'm a Jayhawk for life."