March Madness: Oregon Ducks knock off defending champions Duke

By Jack Magruder, The Sports Xchange  |  March 25, 2016 at 11:10 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For the ninth straight season, there will be no repeat NCAA champion.

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks scored 22 points and forward Elgin Cook had 16 as the top-seeded Ducks eliminated defending NCAA champion Duke with an 82-68 decision Thursday in a West Region semifinal at the Honda Center.

The significance of the victory was not lost on Oregon coach Dana Altman, whose team advanced to meet second-seeded Oklahoma (28-7) in the regional final Saturday.

"Duke is a household name, and Coach 'K,' I have a great deal of respect," Altman said.

"Our guys knew the significance of playing a Duke. All the Final Fours. All the national championships that their program has been able to win. It was a different feel to it. It was special for our program. We have so much respect for them, the nation does, for what they've accomplished.

Reserve forward Jordan Bell had 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots for the No. 5-ranked Ducks (31-6), who are attempting to win their second NCAA title. Oregon's so-called "Big Firs" won the first NCAA tournament in 1939. Duke has won five national titles, all under coach Mike Krzyzkewski since 1991.

Freshman Brandon Ingram led Duke with 24 points but he was about the only Blue Devil who could keep up with Pac-12 regular-season and tournament champion Oregon's quickness and athleticism.

Sophomore guard Grayson Allen had 15 points and freshman guard Luke Kennard had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who lost NBA lottery draft picks Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow from the 2015 title team.

Sophomore point guard Casey Benson had 11 points and eight assists as the Ducks extended their school record for victories in a season.

"They have great athletes," Krzyzewski said. "They knocked us back. They were always in control of the game. I wish we could have played better, but they didn't let us. Their athleticism ... you think you are open. They are so good laterally, and then they have guys who go vertical."

Benson made 3-pointers on the Ducks' first two possessions of the second half to extend a 36-31 halftime lead, and a layup by Cook gave Oregon a 46-35 lead 2 1/2 minutes after the break.

Duke was never closer than seven points thereafter and was within single digits only twice in the final 14 minutes, the last at 77-68 with 56 seconds left.

Oregon shot 49.2 percent from the field and posted a 42-32 rebounding edge.

Duke shot 44.1 percent.

Ingram, considered a possible top five pick in the NBA lottery if he declares for the draft, had 14 points in the first half but was the Blue Devils' only effective offense weapon against the Ducks' switching zone and man-to-man defenses. Ingram made consecutive 3-pointers during a 10-3 run for a 27-26 lead with about six minutes remaining in the half.

"I'm not really worried about (the NBA) right now," Ingram said. "I'm worried about finishing school and being with my guys."

NOTES: Los Angeles Lakers G Kobe Bryant was in attendance, presumably with an eye on Duke 6-foot-9 F Brandon Ingram. "Every time I had a chance to peek this way, to see if he was looking at me," said Oregon sophomore Jordan Bell from Long Beach, Calif. "Once I saw him I said 'I gotta score.' He's a scorer, I gotta score.'" .... Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has made 23 Sweet 16 appearances, five more than No. 2 Jim Boeheim of Syracuse. Duke has 15 Sweet 16 appearances since 1998, the most of any school in that span. ... Oregon was the last Pac-12 team standing after the league received a record seven bids to the NCAA tournament. USC, California, Arizona, Oregon State and Colorado lost their first game, and Utah lost in second round. ... The Ducks have the most wins in school history over the last three, four, five and six seasons. ... David Robinson, whose son Justin plays for Duke, was at the game and shown on the video board. ... Oregon F Elgin Cook, a member of the Pac-12 all-league team, is the son of former NBA star Alvin Robertson.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories