No. 5 seed OSU takes on No. 12 seed Oregon Thursday

March 21, 2013

Oklahoma State will try to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, beginning with a game against No. 12 seed Oregon Thursday in San Jose, Calif.

The Cowboys will make their 25th appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

The Cowboys, playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2010, will enter play as a No. 5 seed – OSU’s highest seed in the tournament since the 2005 team was a No. 2 seed.

Tip time is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. and will be televised on TNT.

The winner of the OSU-Oregon game will face the winner of the St. Louis-New Mexico State matchup for a spot in the Sweet 16. That game will take place on Saturday.

The Cowboys are appearing in the NCAA Tournament for third time in five seasons under head coach Travis Ford and for the 16th time since 1991. Oklahoma State is 38-23 all-time in the tournament.

“A lot of it went like I thought it would,” Ford said of the bracket announcement. “I thought we would be a No. 5 seed and I thought we were going to be in San Jose. That was kind of my gut feeling.

“Obviously we are playing a very tough Oregon team, which is playing its best basketball right now, and coming off a Pac-12 championship victory. They’ve won five of their last six games so it should be a great first round game.”

The Oklahoma State Cowboys  earned an at-large bid to the tournament after a 24-8 season that included a 13-5 Big 12 Conference mark.

The Cowboys and Oregon will be meeting for just the second time. The Ducks downed the Cowboys in a Dec. 28, 1987, meeting in Portland.

OSU has more of a history with its other two potential opponents this week. The Cowboys lead the all-time series with St. Louis by a 32-17 count, although the schools haven’t faced each other since 1983. The Cowboys have won seven of their eight all-time meetings against New Mexico State with the last one coming in the 1994 NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma State is 28th all-time with its 25 NCAA tournament appearances, 18th all-time with its 38 tournament wins, 14th all-time with eight appearances in the Elite Eight and 11th all-time with six Final Four appearances.

The Oregon Ducks will make their 11th appearance in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament when they play Oklahoma State.

The Ducks earned a No. 12 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament after knocking off UCLA, 78-69, in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game to take the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

For the Ducks (26-8), it is their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2008.

The two teams were placed in the tournament’s Midwest Regional and will compete at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., on March 21.  The winner of the game will meet the winner of No. 4 Saint Louis and No. 13 New Mexico State on Saturday in San Jose.  The Midwest Regional semifinals and championship will be in Indianapolis, Ind.

The 2012-13 Oregon Ducks began the year 18-2 and climbed to No. 10 in the nation after a 81-76 triumph over Washington on Jan. 26.

But after the win over the Huskies, Oregon went just 5-6 over the final month and a half of the regular season and closed out the year with two consecutive losses on the road to Colorado and Utah.

Oregon missed out on a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship thanks to its two losses to Colorado and Utah to finish the regular season and entered the Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 3 seed.

Following the regular season, four Ducks garnered All-Conference accolades.  First, senior forward E.J. Singler was named first team All-Conference and fellow senior Arsalan Kazemi was selected to the All-Defensive team.  In addition, first-year guard Damyean Dotson was named to the All-Freshman team and head coach Dana Altman was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.

The Ducks opened the Pac-12 Tournament against the No. 6 seed Washington Huskies, marking the third game of the year between the two schools.  In addition to the Jan. 26 win over Washington, the Ducks also knocked off the Huskies, 65-52, on Feb. 13 in Seattle.

Oregon struggled from the field in the Pac-12 quarterfinals against Washington, shooting just 33 percent (10-of-30) in the second half.  It took a last-second defensive stop for the Ducks to just send the game into overtime.  But in the overtime period, Kazemi scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds to send the Ducks past the Huskies, 80-77.

The Pac-12 Tournament semifinals saw the Ducks face the No. 10 seed Utah Runnin’ Utes, who had beaten Oregon the week before in Salt Lake City and upset seventh-seeded USC and No. 2 seed California in their first two games of the Pac-12 Tournament.

This time, however, the Ducks were ready for the upstart Utes and held Utah to just 15 points in the first half.  Oregon took a 29-15 lead into the break and extended the lead to 19 at the start of the second half.

But resilient Utah slowly cut into the Oregon lead and trimmed the deficit to just eight, 47-39, with just under 10 minutes remaining.  The Ducks responded with a 5-0 spurt, though, to push the lead back to 13.  Oregon went on to win the game, 64-45, and advanced to its first Pac-12 Tournament Championship game since 2007.

Junior guard Johnathan Loyd torched the UCLA Bruins in the final for a season-high 19 points en route to being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The Ducks won the game, 78-69.  The victory gave Oregon its third Pac-12 Tournament title (2003, 2007, 2013) and allowed the Ducks to remain perfect in conference tournament games.

In addition to winning the Pac-12 Tournament Championship and having four Ducks take home Pac-12 All-Conference hardware, Oregon’s season was highlighted by several more individual and team accomplishments.  The 2012-13 Oregon Ducks became just the 14th team in the 108-year history of the program to win 20 games and they tied the 2011-12 Ducks for the most wins in a single season at home (17).  Individually, Singler became the program’s winningest player.  He enters the NCAA Tournament with 87 career victories.  Only four other players in Oregon history (Freddie Jones, Joevan Catron, Luke Jackson, Dick Wilkins) have won at least 80 games.  Singler also scored 14 points in the Pac-12 semifinals against Utah to eclipse the 1,500-point mark.  He enters the NCAA Tournament with 1,509 career points and is just two away from tying Aaron Brooks (1,511) for 11th on Oregon’s all-time scoring list.

This year’s Oregon Ducks are searching for the program’s first win in the NCAA Tournament since they knocked off UNLV, 76-72, on March 23, 2007 to advance to the 2007 NCAA Elite Eight.