Oregon advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in five years after defeating the Rhode Island Rams 75-72 in Sacramento on Sunday.
What was originally shaping up to be just another day at the office for the Ducks nearly turned into a nightmare scenario early in the second half. Oregon was taking care of business against a Rhode Island squad that had only faced one team of Oregon’s caliber all season. The Ducks were starting to feel a little more comfortable after a Jordan Bell lay-up put the team up 8 with 6:36 remaining in the first half.
Then, Rhode Island caught fire.
The Rams outscored the Ducks 27-8 over the next seven minutes of game time. Stanford Robinson outscored the Ducks 9-8 by himself over that stretch. Suddenly, Oregon was down by 11 just seconds into the second half and the team could see its season crumbling.
Rhode Island was up with the Ducks among the top defensive teams in the nation, but Oregon was not making use of its clear advantage offensively. With the Rams shooting a scorching 59.4 percent from the field in the first half, to go along with 10 turnovers for the Ducks, it was easy to see why Oregon found itself in such a deficit.
Oregon managed to rediscover itself in the second half. The team tightened up defensively, only allowing Rhode Island to score 26 points on 40.7 % shooting. Oregon also cleaned up its act on offense, only turning the ball over 4 times in the half, and only once in the final nine minutes.
Most importantly, Tyler Dorsey continued to dominate the way Oregon needs him to if the team wants to continue to advance. Dorsey scored 17 of his 27 points in the final 14 minutes of the game, including a three to tie the game with 1:47 left, and the game winning three with 38 seconds left. Dorsey has led the Ducks in scoring in both games so far in the tournament, and the team will need him to continue to do so if it wants to keep its Final Four dreams alive.
The Ducks will travel to Kansas City for its Sweet 16 match-up with the Michigan Wolverines, who are coming off a 73-69 upset of Louisville. Michigan’s record was only 19-11 at the start of March, but have won seven straight since then. The Wolverines are one of the hottest teams in the country right now, and they will likely give the Ducks everything they have. Michigan statistically does not have a defense that is as strong as Rhode Island’s, but all stats can be thrown out the window in March, especially when a team is as hot as Michigan. Tip-off is set for 4:09 PM PT on Thursday, and the Ducks will try to reach the Elite 8 for the second year in a row.