Everyone knew Oregon was a tough draw for Oklahoma State when the brackets were unveiled on Sunday afternoon, but the Ducks proved to be much more than that against the Cowboys.
Fifth-seeded OSU was on the wrong end of the first upset of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, falling 68-55 to 12th-seeded Oregon in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday in a relatively uncompetitive contest.
The Cowboys finished the season with a swoon against Kansas State in the conference tournament and never broke out of the funk against the Ducks. OSU turned the ball over on its first three possessions of the game and never appeared to be a threat after halftime, trailing by double digits for the entirety of the second half.
In fact, the Cowboys' 16-point second-half deficit was their largest of the season. Oklahoma State's three largest deficits of the year – 15 vs. Iowa State, 15 vs. Kansas State and 16 vs. Oregon – have come in the past five games; all were losses.
Markel Brown led the Pokes with 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting, while Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Smart scored 14 on 5-of-13 shooting and just 4-of-8 from the free-throw line.
The Cowboys couldn't get anything going from the start. OSU had 10 first-half turnovers and was outrebounded 24-16 – including 11-3 on the offensive glass – leading to 21 extra possessions for the Ducks. Those 21 free possessions wiped away the Cowboys' defensive efforts, resulting in a 37-26 halftime deficit despite outshooting Oregon 44 percent to 38 percent.
The issues remained the same in the second half but OSU's problems were only worsened when the shots stopped falling, as well.
One particular second-half sequence seemed to break the Cowboys' spirits.
After a Michael Cobbins' bucket underneath cut the Oregon lead to 11, OSU responded with a solid defensive effort on the other end and came up with the rebound and a chance to trim it to nine. The Cowboys' offense stagnated and eventually settled for an off-balance fadeaway in the bottom left corner, which the Ducks instantly turned into a fast-break that resulted in an uncontested 3-pointer.
And just like that, OSU trailed by 14 again midway through the half.
It was just that kind of day for the Cowboys.
Actually, most of the stats stacked up similarly: OSU shot 39.6 percent, Oregon shot 39.7. OSU had 14 turnovers, the Ducks committed 18. Both teams had 12 assists, eight steals and three blocks.
But two numbers were glaring:
1) OSU, the Big 12's second best free-throw shooting team, shot just 53.3 percent (8-for-15) from the stripe.
2) Oregon trounced OSU on the glass. Rebounding has been a concern for the Pokes all season but it was the deciding factor in Thursday's first-round exit. OSU was outrebounded 45-29 and a ridiculous 14-4 on the offensive glass.
Oregon's Arsalan Kazemi entered the game averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game but he dominated the Cowboys with 17 boards, including six on the offensive end. For comparison, Smart led OSU in rebounding with nine despite being the point guard.
The lack of rebounding resulted in a nearly impossible scenario for the Cowboys, who couldn't escape from one-and-done possessions, eliminating any real chance of finding an offensive rhythm. OSU scored on consecutive possessions only once in the second half.
The Ducks were led by freshman guard Damyean Dotson's 17 points and Dominic Artis chipped in 13. Kazemi scored 11 to go with his 17 rebounds.
Le'Bryan Nash was the only Cowboy other than Smart and Brown to reach double figures with 10 points on 3-for-7 shooting with three rebounds.
Oregon advances to play No. 4 seed Saint Louis on Saturday.