Anaheim, Calif. — The Oregon Ducks took a double-digit lead early in the second half against the defending national champions, and they never flinched down the stretch.
After taking down mighty Duke with remarkably little drama, these high-flying Ducks are on the brink of the Final Four.
Dillon Brooks scored 22 points and Oregon advanced with an 82-68 victory over the Blue Devils on Thursday night in the West Region semifinal of the NCAA Tournament.
Elgin Cook had 16 points and nine rebounds for the top-seeded Ducks (31-6), who will meet Oklahoma on Saturday. The second-seeded Sooners routed Texas A&M 77-63.
After a season-long rise in the Pacific Northwest, the Pac-12 champion Ducks emphatically arrived on the national stage with a strong second-half rally to beat the Blue Devils (25-11) for the first time in school history.
“I think we don’t have a history of being a basketball school, but I think we did some great things this year to prove we deserve it,” said Jordan Bell, who had 13 points and seven rebounds. “I think we played one of our best games this year. Everybody, not just including me. I think we showed everybody we’re a good team.”
The win is a landmark for a football school making its basketball mark. But it was also remarkable for what the Ducks didn’t allow in the second half.
No nerves, no panic — and no rallies by Duke.
The Ducks didn’t take the enormity of their accomplishment for granted, even though they can’t spend much time thinking about it right now.
“Duke is a household name,” coach Dana Altman said. “Coach K, I have a great deal of respect. So yeah, our guys knew the significance of playing Duke, defending national title, all the Final Fours, all the national championships that their program has been able to win. It was a different feel to it.”
Oregon was the champion of the first NCAA Tournament in 1939, but hasn’t been back to the Final Four since. The Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007 and the third time since 2002.
Brooks hit four 3-pointers to lead the Ducks, who also broke the school’s single-season wins record with their 31st. They’ve won 10 straight since mid-February while winning the Pac-12’s regular-season and tournament titles.
“They’re not that deep,” Brooks said of the Blue Devils. “I think (Grayson) Allen played the whole game. They’ve really only got seven guys. We knew they were bound to get tired. We just kept going and kept going, knowing they’d wear out. … Some of them, their shoulders started to sag. Once they got tired we could see it.”
Freshman Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, but Duke fell short of its third Elite Eight trip in five years — and both coaches agreed the better team won.
Allen, the Blue Devils’ leading scorer, got 12 of his 15 points in the second half, but Duke couldn’t make much progress in the second half.
“They’re an athletic team, and that plays into their defense,” said Allen, who went 4 for 13. “I also thought we missed some shots around the rim. Could have gone up stronger to finish, but give them credit for going up to challenge us.”
Coach Mike Krzyzewski still emerged proud of his young roster after it lost five of its final 10 games.
“They were the better team, that was pretty obvious,” Krzyzewski said. “They knocked us back. They were always in control of the game. Right at the end, I thought we could do a Texas A&M (comeback) … but then amazing things have to happen.”
Oregon jumped out to an 11-point lead after back-to-back 3-pointers by Casey Benson and Chris Boucher, and they got the arena rocking with back-to-back fast-break dunks from Bell and Cook moments later.
More West Region
No. 2 Oklahoma 77, Texas A&M 63: Jordan Woodard scored 22 points and Buddy Hield had 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Sooners (28-7) advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009.
The Sooners blew open a close game by going on a 19-4 run during the last 7:42 of the first half to take a 45-26 lead. The Sooners forced the Aggies into bad shots and turnovers, and Woodard was the catalyst on the offensive end.
Tyler Davis scored 17 for A&M (28-9), which reached the Sweet 16 with a thrilling double-overtime victory against Northern Iowa after rallying from 12 points down in the final 44 seconds of regulation.
No. 1 Kansas 79, No. 5 Maryland 63: Perry Ellis scored 27 points, and Wayne Selden Jr. added 19. The win put the Jayhawks back into the Elite 8 for the first time since 2012. It took time for the Jayhawks (33-4) to get going, but once they finally seized the lead late in the first half everything else fell into place for their 17th straight victory. They emerged from the break to make their first six shots and steadily take control behind senior forward Ellis, who made 10 of 17 from the field.
Selden was right there with 7-of-16 shooting to help Kansas earn a berth in Saturday’s regional final against Villanova.
The Terrapins (27-9) dictated the early tempo and briefly engaged in a back-and-forth game with the Jayhawks before eventually falling behind the tournament favorite. Rasheed Sulaimon led Maryland with 18 points.
No. 2 Villanova 92, Miami 69: Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins each scored 21 points, and Villanova never trailed. The Wildcats (32-5) are back in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009, when they reached the Final Four. It’s their third trip to the regional final with coach Jay Wright. They turned in quite the offensive performance with former coach Rollie Massimino, who led Villanova to the 1985 national championship, sitting nearby.
Daniel Ochefu added 17 points, and Josh Hart had 11 for Villanova, which shot 62.7 percent (32 of 51).
Miami (27-8) now is 0-3 in this round and 0-2 with coach Jim Larranaga.
Sheldon McClellan scored 26 points for Miami, and Angel Rodriguez added 13.