When the brackets were announced many believed that the Pac-12 tournament champion Oregon Ducks were under-seeded by the selection committee, which handed Dana Altman’s team a 12-seed and a game against 5-seed Oklahoma State.
Oregon (27-8) wasn’t too concerned with the seeding chatter, going out and taking care of business by the final score of 68-55 in a Midwest region game in San Jose. With the victory the Ducks advance to take on 4-seed Saint Louis Saturday.
Damyean Dotson led four Ducks in double figures with 17 points but the game was won on the glass, as Oregon out-rebounded Oklahoma State 47-34 and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. Arsalan Kazemi, playing in his first NCAA tournament game, accounted for 17 of those boards while also scoring 11 points.
Neither team shot particularly well from the field, with Oregon shooting 39.0% and the Cowboys not much better at 40.4%, meaning the team that took advantage of second-chance opportunities would come out on top.
Markel Brown (16 points) and Marcus Smart (14) led Oklahoma State offensively but those two needed a combined 29 shots (11 made field goals) to score those points. Oregon kept Smart from getting into the lane consistently, and with their best players struggling to find quality looks Oklahoma State found itself in trouble as the game wore on.
With Saint Louis on the horizon the issue the Ducks need to remedy is the same one that sprouted up when freshman point guard Dominic Artis went down during Pac-12 play with a foot injury: turnovers. Oregon turned the ball over 17 times against Oklahoma State, which fell short despite scoring 20 points off of those turnovers.
Given how well Saint Louis has played on both ends of the floor, Oregon can’t afford to be as reckless with the basketball if they’re to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.