Ducks back in familiar territory - Sweet 16
First game jitters? Perhaps a little rusty? Nope, the Oregon Ducks looked really good Monday against Iowa and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Indiana.
The seventh-seeded Ducks broke open a close game late in the first half and rolled over the No. 2-seeded Hawkeyes 95-80 in an NCAA West Region second-round game.
Oregon (21-6) moved to the second round by virtue of Virginia Commonwealth not being able to play the Ducks in the first round because of COVID-19 protocol. The game was ruled a no contest.
Chris Duarte had 23 points, LJ Figueroa 21, Will Richardson 19 and Eugene Omoruyi 17 for Oregon against Luka Garza-led Iowa. Starters accounted for all but six points for Oregon, which shot .559 from the field.
The 6-11 Garza had 36 points in his final game for Iowa.
Duarte said the Ducks executed their plan well against a very good Iowa team.
"Iowa is a great team. We knew they could score points. We knew that Luka Garza is a really good player. Our plan was we knew Garza was going to get his points. Our plan was get stops and play defense, play hard, get on the boards, and that's what we did," Duarte said.
"I'm very proud of the guys. Man, they played hard," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "We had 25 assists on 38 baskets. We got the rebounding tied up, and Garza is such a good player and just ripped us up, but we really wanted to make sure that they didn't get the threes going and beat us from the 3-point line.
"We knew we didn't match up inside with him, so we just wanted to make sure the 3s didn't kill us, and I thought our guys did a tremendous job with focus and talking on the defensive end the second half."
Oregon plays USC on Sunday in the Sweet 16 after the Trojans routed Kansas 85-51 on Monday. USC beat Oregon 74-58 on Feb. 22 in Los Angeles, the lowest output by the Ducks this season.
The Ducks made the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the past five NCAA tourneys under coach Dana Altman.
The Ducks ripped off a 10-0 run to finish the first half to lead 56-46 against Iowa (22-9). The 56 first-half points were the most ever for the Ducks in an NCAA Tournament game.
Duarte and Richardson had 14 points at the break, Figueroa 11 and Omoruyi 10.
The 6-6 Omoruyi had the primary defensive assignment against the 6-11 Garza.
"Eugene has done such a tremendous job of battling every night and giving us that physicality, we'd be in trouble if we didn't have Eugene," Altman said. "He takes charges. He works his tail off. He's physical. He's an awfully good player."
Oregon shot .595 in the first half (22 of 37) including 7-of-14 3-point shooting.
Garza was 8 of 10 in the first half for 22 points, but only two starters scored for the Hawkeyes in the first half.
Then, when the Hawkeyes made another push in the second half, the Ducks kept the momentum and cruised to victory — the Pac-12 Conference's seventh win in seven NCAA games to date.
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