Oregon falls in Sweet 16 to Louisville
Oregon fell into an early hole and never could battle all the way back as the Pac-12's final team in the men's NCAA tournament fell 77-69 to overall No. 1 seed Louisville on Friday night in Indianapolis.
The Cardinals led by as many as 16 before the Ducks went on a mini-run to cut that margin in half several times throughout the game. Louisville had their way on offense, shooting 54 percent and slashing through the paint to jump out to a lead they held the entire game.
"We Dug ourself a pretty big hole and weren't able to come back. Louisville is a very good basketball team and very talented," said coach Dana Altman. "I'm very proud of the team. Outstanding group of guys to work with that showed a lot of character, bouncing back from a disappointing end to our season, and they showed that same character all year, overcoming obstacles with injuries."
Five Ducks finished in double-figures, led by senior E.J. Singler's 15. Arsalan Kazemi added yet another tournament double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while managing to keep Oregon in the game on both ends of the floor.
As close as the team made it, Altman and the Ducks couldn't find a way to slow down Louisville guard Russ Smith, who finished with a tournament-high 31 points.
"With Smith bringing it at us, we just didn't contain his speed. He got by us and powered some into the rim," Altman said. "Russ Smith is a talented young man. They've got a lot of talented players. When he got going, we didn't have an answer."
Kazemi's dunk while getting fouled with just over five and a half minutes left cut the lead to eight late in the game and capped a 14-4 run that gave those in green and yellow at Lucas Oil Stadium hope. The lead would eventually be whittled down to six, but the Ducks could get no closer.
Damyean Dotson, who poured in a career-high 23 in Oregon's win over Saint Louis, was notably absent among the regular contributors with an uncharacteristic off night. The freshman didn't make a field goal until halfway through the 2nd half and was just 5-of-14 from the field. Senior Carlos Emory came off the bench to add 10 points and four offensive rebounds.
The Sweet 16 appearance caps a successful (and surprising) season under Altman that saw Oregon go 28-9 and capture the Pac-12 Tournament championship.
"It has been great. This is the most fun I've had, playing college basketball," added Kazemi. "I didn't want it to stop, but it's sad that it's over now. But it was great, and it was a great feeling that knowing that only 16 teams out there that are still playing."