Tyler Dorsey provided a preview of his tournament success in early February when the Ducks hosted then-No. 5 Arizona.
The sophomore scored 23 points, including six 3-pointers, and the Ducks routed the Wildcats 85-58. Oregon’s 16 total 3-pointers in that game were its most since opening Matthew Knight Arena in 2011.
After the victory, Dillon Brooks summed up his teammate: “Tyler’s the X-factor on our team.”
Dorsey is solidifying his reputation in the NCAA Tournament. On Sunday, he had 27 points on 9-of-10 shooting as third-seeded Oregon rallied to beat No. 11 Rhode Island 75-72 in Sacramento, California.
Dorsey hit two clutch 3-pointers, including a contested go-ahead 3 from atop the arc with 38.4 seconds to play.
“I was joking with him, `Nine for 10, how the heck did you miss that one shot?”‘ coach Dana Altman said.
The victory sent the Ducks (31-5) through to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season and third time in the past five years. They’ll face seventh-seeded Michigan on Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Wolverines (26-11) rallied to knock out second-seeded Louisville 73-69 on Sunday to earn their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2014.
The team that emerges will face the winner of Thursday’s later game between top-seeded Kansas and No. 4 Purdue at the Sprint Center.
Dorsey has been building toward this moment. He’s averaged 23.6 points in the last five games, stringing together five straight 20-point games for the first time this season.
“It’s just my teammates. They’ve been finding me, and all I’ve been doing is spotting up and making the simple play and the right play, the right basketball play,” Dorsey said. “Like coach always says, keep my focus first on defense and rebounding and the offense, let it come. That’s all I’ve been doing these last couple games, and my teammates have been having confidence in me and I’ve been knocking down the shots.”
In Oregon’s opening game against No. 14 seed Iona, Dorsey scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures for a 93-77 victory. Fourteen of his points came in the opening half.
Last season, the Ducks won a school-record 31 games while claiming the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles. They earned a first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007.
Dorsey, who hails from Pasadena, California, averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 35 starts as a freshman. Overall this season, he’s averaging 14 points and 3.4 rebounds.
The Ducks earned a share the Pac-12 regular season title with Arizona this year, then lost by three points to the Wildcats in the conference tournament final. Oregon was stunned when senior big man Chris Boucher tore his left ACL in the semifinals.
Albeit in a different role, Dorsey has been able to pick up some of the slack.
“He’s a player. That scorer mentality I want him to have, but defense and rebounding, when he focuses on those two, he becomes a special player. He becomes really special,” Altman said. “I think that’s part of the reason why he’s exploded here lately, is that he’s been a complete player.”