Oregon (27-8) vs. Saint Louis (28-6)
Saturday, March 23, 7:10 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: HP Pavilion (18,500) -- San Jose, California. Television: TBS. NCAA Tournament Record: Oregon 13-9, Saint Louis 5-8. Series Record: Oregon leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Oregon Ducks became the latest No. 12 seed to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, and they will tangle with the fourth- seeded Saint Louis Billikens in Midwest Regional action at HP Pavilion on Saturday.
The winner of this clash moves on to the Sweet 16 next week against the winner of Louisville/Colorado State matchup.
Oregon, which entered the Big Dance in a surly mood after being labeled a 12- seed even after finishing second in the Pac-12 during the regular season and then winning the conference tournament, sent a message to the selection committee by claiming a 68-55 win over No. 5 seed Oklahoma State in the second round on Thursday, marking its 27th victory of the season (27-8) and its 13th all-time in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first tourney triumph for the Ducks since topping UNLV in the Sweet 16 back in 2007.
Saint Louis continued its sensational run through the 2012-13 campaign by dismissing 13th-seeded New Mexico State in the second round on Thursday, 64-44. The 20-point margin of victory was the most for the team in its NCAA Tournament history, which now includes a 5-8 ledger, and it was the Billikens' 28th win on the season overall, which established a new single-season school record. SLU won the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship last weekend, and has now five straight games.
This bout marks only the second meeting all-time between these two schools in men's basketball, the first going to Oregon in a 59-55 final back in December of 1976.
Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi logged a double-double consisting of 11 points and 17 rebounds to help power the Ducks to their 13- point win over Oklahoma State on Thursday. Dominic Artis tacked on 13 points, but his biggest contribution may have been at the defensive end (four steals) where he frustrated Cowboys' freshman sensation Marcus Smart into a 5-of-13 shooting effort (14 points). Carlos Emory added 12 points and nine boards for Oregon, which shot just 39 percent from the floor, going 8-of-22 from 3-point range in the process. The Ducks controlled the glass (44-32), but they were guilty of 18 turnovers. E.J. Singler (11.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.9 apg) heads a list of three double-digit scorers for Oregon, which puts up 71.7 ppg while yielding 63.6 ppg. However, the real catalyst for the club is Artis (8.5 ppg, 3.4 apg), as the Ducks are now 22-4 this season with him in the lineup.
Dwayne Evans scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half, helping Saint Louis continue its hot play of late, and dispatch with the Aggies of New Mexico State on Thursday afternoon. Evans, who picked up MVP honors in the recently- concluded A-10 tourney, set a new school record in NCAA Tournament action with his point total, but he wasn't the only productive member of coach Jim Crews' squad, as Cody Ellis and Cory Remekun both came off the bench to combine for 23 points and 12 rebounds. The Billikens shot 46.3 percent from the field, but their strength, as it has been all season, came at the defensive end as NMSU shot a paltry 27.9 percent from the floor, missing 14 of its 16 3-point attempts along the way. SLU forced 16 turnovers, and won the game rather handily despite being outrebounded by a 42-33 margin. Evans (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 43 steals, 25 blocks, .544 FG percentage, .772 free-throw percentage) is one of the more well-rounded players in the Atlantic 10, and he seems to thrive when the lights are the brightest. Saint Louis ranks among the national leaders in scoring defense (57.7 ppg).
Oregon would love nothing more than to continue to make the tournament selection committee eat crow, but the Ducks could have their wings clipped in this one by a Saint Louis squad that knows a little something about shutting down the opposition. Expect a close game throughout, but for the Billikens to prevail on the strength of another outstanding defensive effort.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 65, Oregon 61
03/23 10:34:45 ET