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Oregon plays a game of dethrone by downing Duke, 82-68

At midcourt, Oregon's Dillon Brooks stomped and screamed. There had hardly been enough time for Duke's players to turn around and watch his highlight.

Oregon can score in a blink, and it did so often in its 82-68 victory in Thursday's West Regional semifinal at the Honda Center.

It was enough to be demoralizing for the Blue Devils.

A few minutes into the second half, Duke's Matt Jones thought he had an open layup.

Oregon's Jordan Bell closed fast. He swatted Jones' attempt, hard, against the backboard. The Ducks scooped the rebound and tossed the ball to Brooks, who threw it down.

From block to dunk, it took three seconds. While Brooks and his teammates celebrated, Duke called timeout. In the huddle, shoulders sagged. Most of the second half remained, but Oregon was overwhelming.

"We just kept going and kept going," Brooks said. "They couldn't hang."

Entering the tournament, observers questioned Oregon's selection as a No. 1 seed. Some argued Michigan State was more deserving.

Oregon's performance has provided vindication. The Ducks led for more than 35 minutes against the defending national champions. Brooks scored 22 points with six assists. Bell scored 13 and blocked three shots. Oregon outrebounded Duke, 42-32.

The win advanced Oregon within a game of its first Final Four since 1939.

"I think we showed everybody we're a great team," Bell said.

The Ducks prefer to run in transition and use their athleticism to harass on the other end. They imposed that style early.

Oregon scored all of its first-half points on three-pointers, free throws, layups and dunks. The Ducks hardly attempted a mid-range jumper.

Oregon shot 49% and made 32 shots all evening. More than half were layups or dunks, 17 total. "We knew we were more athletic than them," Bell said. "Our main objective was just to run them off the line."

On defense, Oregon's length gave Duke fits. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski noted how often Duke seemed to have an open look, only to have an Oregon player swoop in to contest.

"It's something you just don't face very often," Krzyzewski said. "You can't simulate that."

Duke center Marshall Plumlee called Oregon "a real unique team. They're talented one through five."

Oregon's triumph would've been even more lopsided, if not for the effort of Brandon Ingram, Duke's star freshman. Ingram made nine of 20 shots for 24 points, to lead all scorers.

Duke appeared resigned to its fate in the second half. During timeouts, heads hung. Late in the game, Plumlee shoved teammate Luke Kennard, upset with Kennard's defense.

Meanwhile, Oregon celebrated. After the game, Brooks bounded up and down. Later, he said, Krzyzewski spoke to him in the handshake line.

"He said I'm too good of a player to be showing off at the end," Brooks said. "He's right."

When asked about the exchange, Krzyzewski took exception.

"I didn't say that," Krzyzewski said. "I said, 'You're a terrific player.' And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?"

There was plenty for Oregon to celebrate. It set a program record with 31 wins. It advanced to its first regional final since 2007. A game against Oklahoma looms Saturday, and the Ducks are confident. They are now 6-0 against teams ranked in the top 25 this season.

As the seconds wound down Thursday, the Oregon crowd stood. Brooks dribbled out the clock. The shot clock was expiring before the game ended, so Brooks heaved a casual three-pointer. It went in.

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter: @zhelfand

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 25, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Game of dethrone - Ducks show they're more than a football school as they knock off defending champion Blue Devils - OREGON 82, DUKE 68" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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