NORMAN — By Josh Dubow
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dominic Artis anticipated Marcus Smart’s pass and took the interception the other way for a layup early to set the tone for Oregon.
Despite the seedings and the all the pregame hype surrounding Oklahoma State’s star, the Ducks had the better team and the better freshman point guard Thursday night.
Artis had 13 points, four steals and helped slow down Smart while fellow freshman Damyean Dotson led the way with 17 points to help 12th-seeded Oregon extend a run that began in the Pac-12 tournament by beating the fifth-seeded Cowboys 68-55 in the second round of the NCAAs on Thursday.
“We wanted to be aggressive on the boards, we wanted to be aggressive defensively and we wanted to be aggressive offensively,” coach Dana Altman said. “I thought our guys did a great job of that. DA got it started off with a steal and layup early. I’m really happy for these two freshman guards. They’re the future of our program and to get experience like that, it was really important.”
Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.
Oregon advanced to play fourth-seeded St Louis (27-6) on Saturday for a spot in the Midwest regional in Indianapolis next week. The Billikens beat New Mexico State 64-44.
The selection committee raised some eyebrows when Oregon was given a 12 seed despite tying for second place in the Pac-12 in the regular season, winning the conference tournament and going 21-4 with Artis in the lineup.
“I never felt like we needed to make a statement,” forward E.J. Singler said. “We knew we had a good team. It was about getting the win and feeling good about ourselves.”
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said before the game that the Ducks looked nothing like a 12 seed and that was proven true in their tournament opener with the way they shut down Smart and hit their outside shots. Oregon’s eight 3-pointers were their most since having nine in December against Houston Baptist.