By REED NELSON
1:50 p.m.— Opening tip goes to Oklahoma State, who promptly turn it over leading to an easy Oregon bucket. The Cowboys’ next two trips: A missed basket and another bad turnover. I’m not saying that Oregon should have been higher than a 12-seed, but I do think that rankings should be tossed into the fire for this one. It’s a 26-8 team matching up against a 24-8 team. The 26-8 team won their conference championship, the other has a star point guard. The 26-8 team is Oregon and the other one is Oklahoma State. The most flagrant violation when it came to Oregon’s seeding? That they were the LOWEST-SEEDED Pac-12 team in the tournament. They won three games in three days. Who cares if two of those three teams were bad. They won the conference tournament and beat UCLA, something that Arizona and Colorado (two higher-seeded teams) couldn’t do. Oh well. They drew an overrated Big 12 team.
1:56 p.m. — It’s 3-2 OK State with 2:45 seconds played, and Tony Woods already has turned the ball over and committed two fouls. Kyle Singler’s little brother changes up the momentum with a three, but OK State answers with one of their own. Steals might be aplenty, but it won’t be because of staunch defense. These two don’t seem to be too into the whole “buckling down” thing. While I was typing that sentence, Damyean Dotson hit two three’s for Oregon and OK State made an uncontested layup. That sentence, however, brings us to a TV timeout.
2:00 p.m. — Quick Observation: Tony Woods checks out because he apparently thinks fouling the opposition warrants a reward of some kind, and the Ducks offense takes off. Waverly Austin, his replacement, does two things: One, he gives whoever is in the booth (preferably Bill Walton, but not this time. Can’t win ’em all.) the greatest name to say in the country that doesn’t start with Shabazz or end with Oladipo. Secondly, his athleticism allows the Ducks to take more chances on both offense (via early, uncontested long-range looks) and defense (by jumping the passing lanes) knowing that he can get back anytime and has the acumen down low to actually scare opponents.
2:09 p.m. — We’re back. And so is Carlos Emory, but not really. He’s what some people call a “volume scorer,” which really just means he likes to shoot the ball a lot and gets hot sometimes. It’s kind of like calling your friend who hits on every girl at the bar but goes home with one once every five or six times a “volume womanizer.”
2:11 p.m. — Oh right. The game. Oregon is up 13-12 with 10:32 to play. It could have been 15-12, but Arselan Kazemi got stuffed by the rim (GIF coming), so it isn’t.
2:13 p.m. — Oregon really does annoy people on defense. They’re long and relentlessly active with their hands, which leads to a lot of steals when facing an undisciplined opponent (OK State thus far) and a lot of easy buckets when facing a team that runs consistent sets. Playing a PG like Marcus Smart falls right into Oregon’s defensive wheelhouse — they can put one of five guys on him who are at least quick enough to contest most of his drives, and they take away a lot of his penetration abilities. They’ve forced the Cowboys into eight turnovers in less than 12 minutes, and the Helter Skelter pace suits Oregon wonderfully. That’s why they’re up 19-12 with 8:28 to play in the first.
2:18 p.m. — F.Y.I. National Freshman of the Year Marcus Smart is scoreless through 12 minutes. And as I typed it, he draws a foul. I deserve that.
2:23 p.m. — Oregon timeout after a nifty little 4-0 run from the Cowboys, who managed to break a six-minute scoring drought BUT DAMYEAN DOTSON WILL NOT BE DISCOURAGED. The freshman two-guard hits another three, then after a long-three miss by OK State, Kazemi converts a dunk this time, through contact, and misses the free-throw. He’s playing like he wants to play in the NBA right now. That’s a good thing for the Ducks, however farfetched it may be. I’d be in Arsalan, but his offensive skill sit is pretty limited for a 6’7 dude with a rocking beard. Oregon 24, Oklahoma State 18; 5:48 to play in the first.
2:31 p.m. — The Smart Power Rankings:
- Shaka Smart
- Smart Guy T.J. Henderson
- Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House
- Smart Phones
- Marcus Smart
- Smart Cars
- Keith Smart
- Smart Vacuums
2:33 p.m. — While that list was being scientifically formulated, the score jumped to 30-22 in favor of Oregon, thanks to a pair of Kazemi free-throws and a Carlos Emory Hammer-of-Thor Slam. And whatever Jonathan Loyd and Emory just did to push the lead back to 10 was weird, but I liked it. Loyd pulled up for three from around Portugal, air-balled it way right, but Emory was right there to clean up the mess. I’ll contend that it was a well played pass, but that’s because I like Loyd. But Marcus Smart answers on the other end with a bucket down low. He’s really good, but he’s also 2-5 at the line and has put up just three shots in the first 18 minutes. BUT he’s also grabbed four boards and has dished out three assists so that counts for something. Oregon 32, Oklahoma State 24; 2:15 to play.
2:39 p.m. — Here’s a bad omen for Oregon: Oklahoma State has turned the ball over nine times and are just 2 of 6 from the line, yet trail by only six and have still managed 26 points. But Carlos Emory hits a three to send the lead to nine while simultaneously shutting me up. Only Kazemi misses another bunny lay-up and I don’t. He’s really been Jekyll and Hyde today. (Don’t both of those names sort of sound like they belong to crazy people?). And as I write that, he cleans up a Dotson air-ball with a reverse lay-up to beat the first half buzzer AND TOTALLY REDEEMS HIMSELF.
Halftime Update: Oregon 37, Oklahoma 26.
- Damyean Dotson — 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting (3-6 from three) and three rebounds.
- Arselan Kazemi — 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting and 10 rebounds.
- Carlos Emory — 9 points on 3 of 7 shooting and three rebounds.
- Marcus Smart — 6 points on 2 of 5 shooting (2-6 from the line), five rebounds and three assists. Three turnovers.
- Markell Brown — 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting (1-3 from three). Three turnovers.
So far I’ve lost a Sweet-16 team (Bucknell), and two mid-majors (Davidson and St. Mary’s) by less than 3 points combined. I already miss St. Mary’s. Or at least the names on their uniforms (Dellevadova and Waldow are two of the best the Tournament has to offer) and I hate March. I have about as much ability to successfully pick these games as my coffee table. I have to stop picking mid-majors. And I have to stop opining about my bracket. My B.
3:03 p.m. — Halftime is over, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Ducks, who were rolling. At least they start with the ball in Half Two, but OSU is a 2-3 zone. That’s new. So is Tony Woods being effective on the offensive end. His eight-foot jump hook pushes the lead to 13. It’s not that he’s no good, it’s usually just the opposite (even if he did fall down twice on on one possession simply trying to gain interior position). But he played just a couple of minutes in the first half because of foul trouble and the Ducks O clicked without him. Singler’s basket pushes it to 15, but Woods and Artis both fail to push it to 17 and OK State manages to answer Singler. Oregon 41, Oklahoma State 28; 17:11 to play.
3:08 p.m. — Le’Bryan Nash hits a wide-open three to bring the Cowboys within 10, but Dominic Artis takes it coast-to-coast and converts the And-1 to correct it. Oregon is killing the offensive glass this half.
3:10 p.m. — Oregon is moving fast. Dotson answers Brown with a quickness forcing the Cowboys to take a timeout. Oregon 46, Oklahoma State 33; 15:48 to play.
3:12 p.m. — The Le’Bryan Power Rankings
- Le’Bryan Nash
3:17 p.m. — The refs getting whistle happy on this possession. That’s two blocking fouls on the Ducks in less than 10 seconds followed by a whistle for the same on OK State. LET ‘EM PLAYYYYYY. When you do, Singler hits an open three. It’s good for everybody not wearing orange, because everyone loves an upset, duh. And no team with a seed higher than 9 has won today. So not cool for the first/second/coolest round of the NCAA Tournament. We want drama and TNT knows drama. That’s why the Oregon game is on TNT. Oregon 49, OK State 33. Check that Oregon 49, OK State 36. Markel Brown (like Marcel but not) hits an open three to bring the gap back to 13, apparently this one’s cruise control speed.
3:21 p.m. — Even though one step-back jumper isn’t evidence of anything concrete, Artis looks like he has his sea-legs back. Add in Loyd’s newly discovered late-eligibility life, and the Ducks PG situation has gone from scary bad to sneaky good. That’s a great thing given the infinitely dark place that position had devolved to back in February. Oregon 51, Oklahoma State 38; 11:29 to play.
3:25 p.m. — Artis for three! Eight points in the second half, 10 on the game for Artis, and the Ducks take a 16-point lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
3:32 p.m. — Two free throws from Markel Brown cut Oregon’s lead to 11 with 8+ to play, but Dotson continues his hot shooting and brings it back to cruise control. Oregon 56, OK State 43.
3:35 p.m. — After the Cowboys cut the lead to 11 with a chance to bring it to single-digits, Emory hits a wide open corner three set up by a Loyd bob-n-weave and Cowboys head coach Tom Ford is forced to take another time out. This game is playing at a pace that would make glacial seem fast. What would that be… an evolutionary pace? A genetic mutation pace? Surely both turtles and slugs move faster than glaciers. How about an Eddie Curry pace? That might work.
3:41 p.m. — Bad sign: Loyd gets whistled for a 10-second violation. Second bad sign: Smart forces a turnover. Good sign: Smart sucks at shooting free throws (2-6) tonight. Oregon 59, Oregon 46; 5:13 to play.
3:44 p.m. — Oregon is beating OK State 14-6 on the offensive glass, and Emory’s latest OREB lead to Marcus Smart’s second foul in as many minutes.
3:46 p.m. — Marcus Smart makes both free throws (of course) to cut Oregon’s lead to an unfamiliar 12 points. It’s only unfamiliar because it has been 13 for almost the entire second half. This is out of someone’s comfort zone, but who’s remains to be seen. And it will continue that way, because Loyd hits both free throws to put Oregon up 14 with 4:20 to play.
3:50 p.m. — The Freshman POY is absolutely imploding. Smart’s picked up three fouls in four-plus minutes and his latest, a totally unnecessary low-post position jockey that ended up drawing a whistle on the offensive end, has sent Ford into a tizzy. Marcus is dangerously close to falling down below Smart Cars on the Power Rankings. Those things are efficient in city settings and Smart is only 3-11 today and has turned the ball over five times to go with his four personal fouls.
3:53 p.m. — Damyean Dotson, however, is vaulting up the Disambiguated Damien Power Rankings. He’s the game’s high point-man with 15 and has made good decisions most of the game (two turnovers not withstanding). Luckily for the Cowboys, Phil Forte has decided to spice things up in the final two minutes by draining a corner three and completely disregarding Singler’s close-out effort. Oregon 62, Oklahoma State 51; 2:20 to play.
3:56 p.m. — Dotson goes to the line to try and send this one back to… 13. It has to happen. It must. I usually hate the number, but have gotten uncomfortably comfortable with it this afternoon. But, just to teach me a cosmic lesson I suppose, Dotson misses BOTH. It was a double lesson: The first one was the early lauding of Dotson, the second one was designed to make me fear the number 13 again. That’s what happened, don’t fight it. But Loyd goes 1-2 from the line to push the lead to 12 with 1:40 to play. And so the foul game begins.
3:58 p.m. — Or not. Oregon dribbles out 20 seconds of clock as Dotson takes the ball to the rack and draws contact with 1:… No. I won’t write it. But that’s what’s on the clock. Dotson hits both free throws to increase the lead to 14 and ice it. Oh, and Kazemi had 17 rebounds. That’s a big number and six of them came on the offensive end.
4:01 p.m. — This one’s finished, even if Marcus Smart adds two more garbage baskets. Another 12 over a 5.