Since Chris Boucher went down with a knee injury in the Pac-12 Tournament, Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell have stepped up their games to help Oregon get to the Elite Eight. Dorsey and Bell stepped it to another level tonight to lead the Ducks past Kansas 74-60 in the Midwest Regional Finals to send Oregon to their first trip to the Final Four since 1939. And then it wasn’t really a Final Four. They will face the winner of the South Regional final between North Carolina and Kentucky in the national semifinals.
Dorsey led the game with 27 points hitting several key three-pointers, the most important after Kansas cut Oregon’s lead to 66-60 with slightly under two minutes left. That was the icing on the cake as the Jayhawks did not score again. Bell was all over the court, scoring 11 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, blocking eight shots and even getting four assists. On one series Bell got free for a dunk and then sprinted down the court in time to block a shot a the rim. Dillon Brooks added 17 points including a long, key second-half three-pointer and Dylan Ennis added an efficient 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Kansas seemed out of sorts in this game after freshman sensation Josh Jackson picked up his second foul in the first three minutes of action. Coach Dana Altman mixed up Oregon’s defense using a zone press to slow the Jayhawks offense down and mixing in zones and man-to man. Jackson and guard Devonte’ Graham each went scoreless in the first half. All-American guard Frank Mason kept Kansas relatively close with 17 first half points but he couldn’t do it alone. Mason needed 20 shots to score his team-high 21 points and had to take the offense on himself as he received little help from his teammates.
Dorsey’s long three-pointer at the close of the first half gave Oregon a 44-33 halftime lead. They extended the lead to 18 points (55-37) before Kansas made a run to close the deficit to six. Then Oregon scored the final eight points of the game.
Kansas, the favorite playing before a virtual home crowd, was dominant in their first three games winning them by an average of 30 points and scoring at least 90 points in each. Oregon’s defense held them to 60 and their perimeter defense helped Kansas shoot a paltry 5-of-25 from deep. Oregon, helped by Dorsey’s 6-of-10 from distance, shot 11-of-25 from beyond the arc. Oregon had a +4 edge in rebounding but what was more important was Bell’s eight blocks. On many possessions you could see Kansas hesitate in taking the ball inside. Kansas did not have the rim protector that Oregon had and that was a big difference in the game.
Overall Oregon shot 51 percent for the game while holding Kansas to 35 percent shooting. Jackson finished with 10 second half points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Graham only made three free throws while shooting 0-of-7 from the field.
When Boucher went down with his injury most prognosticators assumed Oregon would be eliminated by now. However, the injury created an urgency in the rest of the team, particularly Dorsey and Bell who are now playing at a level far above their performance during the regular season. While the Ducks are down to mainly a six-man rotation they’ve proven that they can beat anyone as long as they can keep Jordan Bell on the floor protecting the basket.
It’s on to Phoenix for the Oregon Ducks.
This article was written by Carl Berman, Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball.