Oregon Ducks basketball: March Madness recap

Oregon basketballFor the Oregon Ducks basketball team, it’s still March but the madness is has come to an end. After advancing to the round of 32 teams, the Ducks were unable to advance to the Sweet 16.

In the dominant win over the BYU Cougars in the first round, the Ducks looked as good as they had all season. Leading the Ducks was the Milwaukee native Elgin Cook, a redshirt sophomore who was returning to his hometown for the first time all season. Cook led the Ducks with a career-high 23 points. This was of course the second meeting for the two teams after Oregon beat BYU 100-96 in overtime back in December.

Tyler Haws led the Cougars (23-12) with 19 points, however the team was playing without Kyle Collinsworth, who tore his ACL in their previous loss versus Gonzaga. Collinsworth was a leader of the team, and was averaging 14 points and 8.1 rebounds. After responding to every BYU punch, the Ducks went on to break away and win 87-68.

After the first round win, the Ducks were set to play Wisconsin with the winner advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. Going into the game, the seven-seeded Ducks were a heavy underdog against the Wisconsin Badgers, who were one of the teams fighting for the final number one seed.

With the Madison campus being only 80 miles away from the game, which was again in Milwaukee, the game had a heavy home crowd effect for the Badgers. However, the Ducks were the ones who started off with a bang.

After scoring 19 points off of fast breaks, the Ducks were handling the Badgers with ease as they went into half time with a 12 point lead. Both of the Ducks’ leading guards Joseph Young and Jason Calliste were key contributors to the fast pace start the Ducks had in the first 20 minutes. Young finished with 29 points and Calliste finished with 20.

However, the second half was a whole new story. The Badgers quickly took control of both the pace and output of the game. As they were able to settle down the Ducks’ fast-paced offensive style, the Badgers were able to catch up and ultimately take the lead. Frank Kaminsky led the team with 19 points, but it was Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson who helped clinch the game in the final minute. Brust finished with 12 points, all coming from crucial 3-pointers, and Jackson hit three free throws, which gave the Badgers the lead. With one last opportunity to tie the game, the Ducks put the ball in the hands of Young, but he was unable to hit a 3-point shot from the corner. The Badgers went on to win 85-77 after the Ducks were forced to foul in the final seconds.

For the Ducks, it’s a tough way to go out most definitely. However, after sitting at 3-8 in conference at one point this season, they should be very pleased with where they got as a team. Going forward, the Ducks will be returning the majority of their team, but will be losing three key players. Johnathan Loyd, the most winningest player in Oregon history is a senior this year, as is transfers Calliste and Mike Moser.