Ducks' NCAA run is a rare feat

This is only the fifth time Oregon has won as many as two games in NCAA tourney

It would only take the fingers on one hand, though now there's one for the thumb, to count off what Oregon accomplished in already winning two games in the NCAA tournament.

In 11 trips to the "Big Dance," Oregon has five times won at least two games, including this weekend in San Jose, Calif.

In 1939, the legendary "Tall Firs" won three games in the first NCAA tournament to claim the national title, then an eight-team event.

The 1960 Ducks won two games to reach the West Regional final, where they lost to eventual national champion California.

The 2002 Oregon team won three games in reaching the Midwest Regional final, where it lost to Kansas for a berth in the Final Four.

The 2007 Ducks, after winning the Pac-10 tournament title, posted victories in their first three NCAA games before dropping the Midwest Regional title game to Florida, the eventual national champion.

And now add this NCAA tournament showing, where double-digit victories over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis, propelled the Ducks into a Sweet 16 matchup with Louisville on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

"I think a lot of us are kind of overwhelmed, but we know how good we are so it's not a surprise to us," UO senior E.J. Singler, from Medford, said after Saturday's victory over the Billikens in San Jose, Calif. "We're going to enjoy this moment, go back (to Eugene), practice a couple of days and get ready for Louisville."

Who would have even considered that idea as remotely possible two weeks ago?

The Ducks were coming off being swept on a trip to Colorado and Utah, which cost Oregon a share of the Pac-12 regular season title. The offense seemed out of sync, the defense was struggling to stop opponents and the Ducks were, as UO coach Dana Altman said, "about as low" as they could be emotionally.

What happened?

"After the Colorado and Utah games, it put a perspective on us, that we can lose to anyone and we've got to bring it every time we play," Singler said. "We got together as a group, said, 'It's a new season,' and it rejuvenated us and put a new goal out there.

"We got our confidence, our swagger back and we're just continuing to play with that."

The Ducks don't downplay their disappointment over how the regular season ended. One victory for a share of the title would have done it, and they looked lost in both games on that trip.

"We lost a chance for a conference championship, the only one (for Oregon) in I don't know how many years," Johnathan Loyd added. "We decided, 'Let's get it done, let's get it back on track'" at the Pac-12 tournament.

Three victories later, and the Ducks were Pac-12 champions.

It's not just that the Ducks have won five consecutive games, but each has been a "loser-out situation," first in the Pac-12 tournament and then in two games at the NCAA tournament.

"We're playing with a sense of urgency," Loyd said. "We've got a purpose. We know if we lose our season is over and we're playing as hard as we can and leaving it all out there on the court."

The result has been five consecutive victories, the last two in the NCAA tournament. And that's hardly an every-year occurrence for Oregon.

"We're in the Sweet 16. It's a dream come true," Loyd said. "This is crazy."


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