Kansas was a 7-point favorite in a de facto home game with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Considering the way the Jayhawks dominated three previous NCAA Tournament contests, Oregon faced a tall task.
The Ducks were up to the challenge, especially Jordan Bell.
Jordan Bell. Jordan Bell. Jordan Bell. The name will haunt Kansas fans for years to come. The image of him swallowing up shots in the paint and grabbing caroms will be a staple of their nightmares.
And it should. He was scary good.
The 6-foot-9 junior forward dominated the game with brutal efficiency. He scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out 4 assists and blocked 8 shots. Then there’s the plethora of shots he altered with intimidating presence.
“I think did a heck of a job today,” he said in a jubilant postgame interview. And why not? No need for false humility. We all saw what he did.
Of course, he had plenty of help from his teammates as Oregon put on one of the most impressive displays of the tournament. Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks combined for 44 points and the entire unit played lockdown defense (Kansas shot 35 percent and 5-of-25 from deep).
But it was Bell who was the heart and soul. It was Bell who could have worn a sign around his neck saying “I am the one who knocks.” He took the fight to Kansas and dodged all counterpunches. Despite flying around the court like a bat out of hell, Bell was whistled for only one foul — and even that one was debatable.
When the Ducks need it most, he didn’t shrink away. After Kansas cut the lead to six with 2:20 to play, Bell grabbed an offensive board, one of his seven on the night. He grabbed another and scored with 1:09 to play to extinguish all hometown hope.
He was a killer, on both ends of the floor from the jump ball to the final whistle. He was everywhere. Now he, and the Ducks, are Phoenix-bound.