“We ran into a very hot team, a very hot team,” Ford said. “I’ve watched a lot of games on these guys and how they’ve played the last three games compared to how they were playing two or three weeks ago, this was a hot basketball team. I was impressed with Oregon, really impressed and they came in here playing extremely well.”
Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5 for 13 shooting a disappointing finish to a stellar season for the Cowboys (24-9).
“I definitely wish I could have done more for my team,” Smart said. “I feel like I let my team down. I didn’t contribute to my team the way that I usually do. And it hurt us a little bit.”
Smart hurt his right hand in the second half and was scheduled to have tests to determine the extent of the injury. His future is also in question and Ford said he would talk with his star player soon about whether to enter the NBA draft.
It was the Ducks’ freshmen backcourt that shined on this night with Dotson hitting three 3-pointers in the first half to help build the lead and Artis shining on both ends.
Artis frustrated Smart and also hit a 3-pointer that gave the Ducks a 54-38 lead midway through the second half in his best performance since missing nine games with a foot injury during the conference season.
“I made some shots that I usually hit, so that got me going,” Artis said. “And then focusing on defense really helped the team.”
His return late in the year helped pave the way to the Pac-12 tournament title for Oregon and has the Ducks playing their best at the most important time of year.