SAN JOSE — Disregarding Wichita State’s shellacking of Pittsburgh — No. 9 seeds actually have a better record all-time against 8 seeds — Oregon’s 68-55 dismantling of Oklahoma State at HP Pavilion marked the first true upset of the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, Ducks fans will tell you that Oregon was drastically underseeded, with the Pac-12 Conference champions suffering from the NCAA’s long-standing disrespect to the West Coast. Still, Oregon backers couldn’t have asked for a better performance from the Ducks, who continued the amazing runs of 12 seeds, who have now captured at least one win in 18 of the past 20 tourneys.
Along with notching up the first major bracket-buster of the tourney, Oregon also witnessed the return to form of point guard Dominic Artis, the Ducks’ freshman point guard who starred for Salesian High School in Richmond.
Artis missed nine games in January and February with an injury, and his shaky performance in the Pac-12 tournament led many to speculate that he wasn’t 100 percent yet.
Making his collegiate debut in his native Bay Area, Artis scored 13 points and added four steals. It was his first double-digit scoring performance since Jan. 19.
St. Louis impresses: Dwayne Evans had 24 points to lead St. Louis to an impressive 64-44 win over New Mexico State in second round play in San Jose. The fourth-seeded Billikens were never seriously challenged by the 13th-seeded Aggies and their 7-foot-5 freshman center Sim Bhullar.
Syracuse cruises: Fourth-seeded Syracuse jumped out to a 20-4 lead in route to rolling over 13th-seeded Montana 81-34. Brandon Triche scored 20 and C.J. Fair added 13 for the Orange, who led 38-15 at the half of their second-round meeting against the Big Sky champions in San Jose. Against Syracuse’s stifling 2-3 zone, Montana shot a paltry 20.8 percent and was never to get into any rhythm offensively.