Oregon downs fourth-seeded Saint Louis to advance to Sweet 16
Oregon's season hit a roadblock when freshman point guard Dominic Artis injured his foot in late January.
With him, the Ducks started the season 17-2. Without him, they were 3-3.
It may have taken a few games – long enough for Artis to return in a limited capacity to provide depth – for junior guard Johnathan Loyd to rise to the occasion but he is doing it at exactly the right time.
Averaging just under five points per game on the season, Loyd turned it on last week in Las Vegas, averaging 11.3 per game on his way to being named the Pac-12 Tournament's MVP. Loyd kept it going on Saturday by contributing nine points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals in a 74-57 win over No. 4 seed Saint Louis, while Artis was scoreless.
The Billikens kept things close early on, but the No. 25 Ducks used a 16-3 run to close the first half and garner a lead they would never surrender. The lead only widened at the three-point line as Oregon knocked down 8-of-11 from long range while Saint Louis was just 3-for-21.
Freshman guard Damyean Dotson had five of those three-pointers and led all scorers with 23 points.
“We just had a good shooting day,” coach Dana Altman said. “But we took good threes. I keep telling the guys, you've got to take good ones. And Dot, all six of his were somebody penetrated and made him a shot. And he just knocked them down.
Senior forwards E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory each added 14.
Despite winning the Pac-12 Tournament and staying in the top 25 for much of the season, Oregon was dealt the lowest seed among conference teams on Selection Sunday (California also received a No. 12 seed). The Ducks won their first two games by a combined 30 points.
“At the beginning of the season they had us as a...going to finish seventh in the Pac-12,” said senior forward Arsalan Kazemi, who finished with 16 rebounds. “We proved them wrong and we came here. And we just decided as a team we're going to go out there and we don't care who we're going to play.”
Oregon moves on to the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis, where it awaits the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville advanced by routing No. 8 seed Colorado State on Saturday, 82-56.
Saint Louis' inspirational postseason run ends in San Jose after coach Rick Majerus passed away midseason. Senior guard Kwamain Mitchell led the Billikens with 18 points while junior Dwayne Evans had 16.