Photo by Kyle Terada / USA Today
Oregon Basketball

Ducks Keep Dancing

March 24, 2019
2,709

The Ducks and the Anteaters faced off in the second round of March Madness, and the Ducks managed to do what no other team has done since mid-January -- beat UCI, 73-54.

The first half was a near-perfect example of Oregon basketball, with the Ducks managing to suffocate the Anteaters’ offense while scoring relatively easily. Another plus was that the Ducks went almost 10 minutes without committing a foul, which has been an issue all season long.

The Ducks' defense resulted in the Anteaters shooting 33 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from behind the arc. The Ducks were in complete control at the half, 35-23.

After intermission, it was a different story. UCI came out throwing punches and hitting every shot. The Anteaters even managed to get the lead back at 37-35 with 14 minutes left.

It would be another minute and a half before the Ducks would score their first points of the half, which came when Ehab Amin hit a three. After that long ball, the flood gates opened and the Ducks surged back to a dominating lead that would put them up by as many as 22 points.

With less then two minutes to go, the Ducks subbed out Amin and the starters in favor of Miles Norris, Victor Bailey Jr., even Will Johnson and Luke Osborn. The Ducks would go on to win 73-54.

There was one very clear MVP of this game, and it was Amin. No one else was even close, except for maybe Kenny Wooten.

Amin has had good games before in a Duck uniform, but against the Anteaters he had a performance that should rank up there in Oregon lore with Jordan Bell’s 2017 Elite Eight outing against Kansas.

From the start of the game, Amin made his presence known on both ends of the court, alternating great offensive sequences with tremendous defensive efforts. At the end of the first half he had 6 points, was perfect from behind the arc (2/2), had 2 offensive rebounds and 2 steals. He even had some hustle plays that were incredible, where he put his body on the line for the greater good of the team.

But it was Amin’s heroics in the second half that should earn him a spot in Oregon men’s basketball lore. The Ducks hadn’t scored in nearly 10 minutes before Amin hit the three that turned the tide, from their Amin not only continued to score but he also became a monster on the defensive end -- flying around the court creating turnovers and steals.

Even when he wasn’t producing points, the energy he emitted was contagious for his teammates, and it helped them regain the momentum. He even recorded an assist on an alley-oop to Wooten in the closing minutes to put the cherry on the Sunday sundae.

Amin recorded a stat line of 12 points (4/4 from behind the arc), 6 rebounds and 3 steals. He had a gaudy plus-minus of +27, but even that stat line doesn’t fully do Amin justice. When his back was up against the wall and he saw his collegiate career ending, the grad transfer stepped up and put the whole team on his back.

Another big reason for the Ducks second-half comeback was the defensive heroics of Wooten. I feel like I say this every time I talk about him, but this kid is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and I am very glad that he is wearing a Duck uniform.

Oregon’s high-jumping big man recorded a staggering 7 blocks and 8 rebounds. He personally stymied the Anteaters and assured that Oregon would survive and advance.

I know Wooten’s decision to send a ball into the stands is a divisive one, but nothing gets teammates and fans going more than sending a ball flying. And it puts the fear of god into other teams.

It wasn’t a perfect game, but the Ducks managed to start and finish strong. And that's really impressive when you consider where the Ducks were just a month ago.

Now the Ducks get less than a week to prepare for a 7 p.m. PDT time tipoff Thursday with No. 1 seed Virginia in Louisville (Ky).

 
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