They came in as an undervalued 12 seed, but left as victors. Behind strong performances by Arsalan Kazemi, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, Oregon secured its first NCAA tournament victory since its elite eight run in 2007.
Oregon also made school history by defeating a team seeded higher than them in the NCAA tournament for the first time.
The Ducks dominated the rebounding edge all game, and out-rebounded the Cowboys 45-29. Senior Arsalan Kazemi was a driving force behind that advantage, as he recorded a double-double by halftime. Kazemi finished with 11 points, 17 rebounds and two steals for his 55th career double-double.
It was a game of missed opportunities for Oklahoma State, as in the first half head coach Travis Ford said “We gave them 21 extra possessions between 10 turnovers and 11 second(-chance) shots.”
Three point shooting was another key for the Ducks. Oregon hit eight threes in the game, their highest total in a game since December. Damyean Dotson hit three of those three-pointers and finished with 17 points on the game.
Head coach Dana Altman said the Ducks’ three-point shooting was due in large part to their effort on the defensive side of the ball.
“We got aggressive on defense and on the boards and it turned over to our offense,” Altman said.
Freshman Dominic Artis had his best game since returning from a foot injury seven games ago. Artis struggled coming into the game, as he only had five total points in the Pac-12 tournament, but put in 13 points to propel the Ducks to victory.
Artis’ impact wasn’t only felt on the offensive end, though, as he stifled Big-12 player of the year Marcus Smart into 14 points on 5-14 shooting. Smart also committed five turnovers in the game, and seemed to be put out of his flow by Artis and backup point guard Jonathan Loyd.
Oregon seemed a little shellshocked at all the NCAA tournament offers early, as the game started sloppy with 10 turnovers between the teams in the opening nine minutes.
The Ducks would calm down and lead all the way from 13-12 after a Jonathan Loyd layup. Oregon ended the first half with a double digit lead after a Carlos Emory three pointer and a buzzer beater by Kazemi made the score 37-26.
From there it was smooth sailing for the Ducks as they led by as much as 16 before defeating Oklahoma State 68-55.
The Ducks weren’t perfect, though, as they committed 17 turnovers against the Cowboys. Going into their next game Saturday against the fourth-seeded Saint Louis Billikens, Altman said the Ducks need to be on their A-game.
“We turned the ball over too damn much,” Altman said, “They are really good, we’re gonna have our hands full.”