SAN JOSE, Calif. — With their outside shots falling and their defense harassing Oklahoma State all afternoon, the Oregon Ducks played well above their disappointing seeding and into the next round of the NCAA tournament.
Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help 12th-seeded Oregon extend a run that began in the Pac-12 tournament by beating the fifth-seeded Cowboys 68-55 in the second round on Thursday.
Dominic Artis scored 13 points and helped frustrate Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart on the defensive end to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.
Oregon advanced to play fourth-seeded St Louis (27-6) on Saturday for a spot in the Midwest regional in Indianapolis next week. The Billikens beat New Mexico State 64-44.
The selection committee raised some eyebrows when Oregon was given a 12 seed despite tying for second place in the Pac-12 in the regular season, winning the conference tournament and going 21-4 with Artis in the lineup.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said before the game that the Ducks looked nothing like a 12 seed and that was proven true in their tournament opener with the way they shut down Smart and hit their outside shots. Oregon’s eight 3-pointers were their most since having nine in December against Houston Baptist.
Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5 for 13 shooting a disappointing finish to a stellar season for the Cowboys (24-9).
It was the Ducks’ freshmen backcourt that shined on this night with Dotson hitting three 3-pointers in the first half to help build the lead and Artis shining on both ends.
Artis had four steals and hit a 3-pointer that gave the Ducks a 54-38 lead midway through the second half in his best performance since missing nine games with a foot injury during the conference season.
His return late in the year helped pave the way to the Pac-12 tournament title for Oregon and has the Ducks playing their best at the most important time of year.
Smart picked a bad time for one of his worst performances. He turned the ball over five times, missed four of eight free throws and was unable to exploit his decided size advantage against Artis and Johnathan Loyd on the offensive end.
He didn’t get much help either outside of Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash.
The Ducks had a decided crowd advantage for the game played on the West Coast with even former UCLA star Bill Walton decked out in a tie-dyed Oregon outfit.
There was plenty to cheer about in the first half for the Oregon fans after a sloppy start to the game that featured 10 turnovers in the opening 9 minutes.
Artis picked Smart twice to lead to fastbreak baskets for the Ducks. Kazemi’s slam on a putback gave Oregon a 19-12 lead as the Cowboys went nearly 6 minutes without scoring.
Carlos Emory’s 3-pointer from the corner made it a double-digit game with just over a minute left and Kazemi beat the buzzer with a reverse off an airball by Dotson to give Oregon a 37-26 lead at the half.