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No. 1 Oregon survives No. 8 St. Joe’s to reach Sweet 16

No. 1 Oregon outlasts No. 8 St. Joe’s and become the fourth No. 1 seed to reach the Sweet 16 this year, the first time it’s happened since 2012

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What happened

A pair of underclassmen carried No. 1 Oregon in the final five minutes as the Ducks rallied from behind to a 69–64 victory over No. 8 Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks led 58–51 after Lamarr Kimble made a step-back jumper with 5:34 to play, but Oregon closed the game on an 18–6 run. Freshman guard Tyler Dorsey scored a game-tying layup, a go-ahead three-pointer and two free throws to end the game, while sophomore forward Dillon Brooks scored the first three points of the run and nailed a three to give the Ducks the lead for good.

Oregon built 10-point leads in each half, but Saint Joseph’s responded with runs of its own. Momentum swung in favor of the Hawks after they went on a 10–0 run, followed by an 8–0 run to take their 58-51 lead, but it was all Oregon after that.

Brooks scored a game-high 25 points, senior forward Elgin Cook added 18 and Dorsey chipped in 14 points. Saint Joseph’s forward DeAndre’ Bembry led the way with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while three other Hawks reached double figures. Bembry’s layup with 27 seconds left cut Oregon’s lead to two points, but Saint Joseph’s never got any closer in the game’s final seconds.

Why it matters

In an NCAA tournament with a record number of upsets, the top-seeded teams have survived the madness. All four No. 1 seeds will move on to the second weekend, which hasn’t happened since 2012. Seven Pac-12 teams made the NCAA tournament, but only Oregon remains after knocking out Saint Joseph’s (and the Atlantic 10 Conference).

Playing on the West Coast limits the Ducks’ visibility and exposure, but they’re riding a 10-game winning streak with a high-powered offense and one of the country’s 50 most efficient defenses. They’re getting the chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage in front of national audiences.

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What’s next

Oregon will play No. 4 Duke in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils have a perimeter-oriented attack with matchup nightmares in freshman Brandon Ingram and sophomore Grayson Allen, but they have a thin rotation, especially in their frontcourt. Duke struggled to put away UNC-Wilmington and Yale in its first two NCAA tournament games, which makes one wonder how the Blue Devils will perform against a more talented and athletic opponent like Oregon.

The game will feature two of the top 10 most efficient offenses in the country, creating the potential for a high-octane matchup in the regional semifinals.