Preview: Oregon vs. Saint Louis
Saint Louis will try to extend its best season in school history when the fourth-seeded Billikens play No. 12-seed Oregon in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in San Jose, Calif. Saint Louis won a program-record 28th game Thursday, smothering New Mexico State 64-44. Many felt the Ducks were under-seeded after they won the Pac-12 tournament title, and they went out and proved it with a 68-55 second-round victory over Oklahoma State.
Saint Louis junior forward Dwayne Evans scored 24 points in the opener, the most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history. He leads the Billikens in scoring overall (14), surpassing his average in each of the last nine games. The Ducks feature a mix of talented freshmen, led by starting guards Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis, and hungry seniors. Arsalan Kazemi, who grabbed 17 rebounds against Oklahoma State, leads the senior group and figures to be a tough matchup for the Billikens, who are 251st in the nation in rebounding.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, TBS.
ABOUT OREGON (27-8): The Ducks went 5-4 while Artis was sidelined with a foot injury during Pac-12 play. While that was a big loss for Oregon and likely cost the Ducks a regular-season conference title, it also gave junior point guard Johnathan Loyd a chance to shine. He initially struggled in the starting role, including three games in which he failed to make a field goal or register a point, but has become more comfortable of late, even with Artis back in the starting lineup. He scored a season-high 19 points in the Pac-12 tournament final against UCLA and played more minutes (25) against Oklahoma State than Artis (17).
ABOUT SAINT LOUIS (28-6): The Billkens made a trip to the Northwest back in November and lost 66-61 to Washington, a team Oregon beat twice during conference play. Two days later, coach Rick Majerus, who had been on leave since the summer because of heart problems, died. Saint Louis went on to win its next nine games and followed that with an 11-game winning streak. The Billikens knocked off a previously ranked Butler team three times this season and also swept both games against another ranked Atlantic-10 foe, Virginia Commonwealth. Saint Louis has been getting it done with defense - it is 15th in the nation in opponent scoring (57.7).
1. The Pac-12 and Atlantic-10 conferences combined to go 7-0 in Thursday's second round.
2. Oregon senior E.J. Singler on Thursday became the school's all-time leading scorer (1,517 points), passing Aaron Brooks (1,511).
3. The 27 wins by the Ducks is third-most in program history.
PREDICTION: Oregon 64, Saint Louis 60