Rushed Reactions: #12 Oregon 74, #4 Saint Louis 57Posted by rtmsf on March 23rd, 2013
RTC is at the San Jose pod this evening. We filed this report after Saturday’s Third Round game between #4 St. Louis and #12 Oregon.
Three Key Takeaways:
- About that Saint Louis Defense. SLU’s calling card this season has been its elite defensive efficiency, with a high-pressure half-court defense that ranks in the top 10 nationally and had routinely eviscerated teams, holding 11 of its last 12 opponents under 62 total points (Xavier, the only exception, scored 77 in an overtime win). Oregon was having none of that. After a first few shaky possessions where the Saint Louis defense got its hands on some passes to cause some deflections, the Ducks adjusted well and went on a tear led by Damyean Dotson and Carlos Emory where they got repeated open looks and knocked them down. A hot first half became a 53% shooting night and a ridiculous 8-11 from three. It was the third-worst defensive performance of the year for the Billikens and it likely would have been worse had the game not gotten so far out of hand.
- Damyean Dotson Has Star Power. If not now, right here in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but next year for sure as a breakout star in the Pac-12 and nationally. He’s already got all the tools, but with a good portion of next year’s squad graduating, it will be incumbent upon he and Dominic Artis to lead Dana Altman’s Ducks into the future. His size at 6’5″ was a nightmare match-up for the much smaller Billikens guards as he was able to easily shoot over the top (5-of-6 from three) and find soft spots in the creases of the defense. He and Carlos Emory set the tone from the opening minutes offensively, firing Oregon to a 60% shooting first half and a 16-point lead that appeared insurmountable.
- Worst Seeding Ever? We’re not much for ridiculous superlatives and hyperbole around here, but we are having trouble thinking of another situation where a team that had as good of a season as Oregon was so inadequately seeded. The committee says that it takes in-season injuries into account, and yet it didn’t appear to notice how well Oregon played with Dominic Artis in the lineup. He’s back now, if they haven’t noticed (even if today was not a great game for him). Certainly an argument could be made of a Hawthorne Effect of sorts, that the Ducks played so well and with a laser focus because of the NCAA-induced chip on their shoulders. That’s a reasonable take. But after two games of watching these guys show no quarter in picking apart a strong #5 seed and #4 seed, it’s difficult to understand how the NCAA got this one so wrong.
Star of the Game: Damyean Dotson, Oregon. No other realistic choice today. The freshman went off for 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting that included five treys and only one miss from beyond the arc. He was completely dialed in today, and the SLU defense had no realistic way to prevent his open looks. As noted above, the kid has star power and can become the cornerstone of these Ducks for years to come.
- “Adolph Rupp ain’t coming to Oregon.” — SLU head coach Jim Crews, in response to a question about how Dana Altman was somewhat of an unknown when he got to Oregon but has done so well there.
- “This is my 12th NCAA Tournament… and I was just as excited this time as I was my first one.” — Oregon head coach Dana Altman, describing his emotions and embracing the moment.
Sights & Sounds: Even with the arena mostly full for this game, it was not necessarily full of Oregon partisans. Ducks fans are a loud and boisterous group, and although they were well-represented especially in comparison with Saint Louis, there was a waiting-around aspect to the game. The guess here is that Cal will have a big-time home game, and even though you sometimes see conference mates rooting for each other in these postseason events, we’re not sure that there’s a lot of love between the two Pac-12 fan bases.
Wildcard: Arsalan Kazemi is a rebounding machine. After grabbing 17 caroms against Oklahoma State on Thursday, he followed up with another 16 today. These two performances rank as tied for second and third best for him on the year (he averaged 9.8 RPG this season). Of those 33 boards, 13 of them have been offensive, and although I don’t have the figures in front of me, I’m quite certain most of his points (eight tonight; 11 Thursday night) were a result of those putbacks. Strong work for the Iranian Sensation.
What’s Next? Oregon will travel to Arlington, Texas, where the Cinderella story will take on the overall #1 seed and current juggernaut, Louisville, in the Sweet Sixteen. The Cardinals certainly have the athletes to deal with guys like Dotson and Emory, but it will be interesting to see how the Ducks match up with the Cards.