By Andrew Kahn
There is no better scorer in the NCAA Tournament right now than Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey. He has scored 51 points in two games, bested only by South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell. But Dorsey’s efficiency sets him apart: He’s 18 of 23 from the field, including six of nine from deep. The 3-seed Ducks are in the Sweet 16, where they’ll face red-hot Michigan in Kansas City, Missouri. To advance, Oregon will need its sophomore wing to keep firing.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Best Rain Friday Night
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Dorsey’s post-season transformation has been incredible. He averaged 12.4 points in Oregon’s first 31 games, taking a backseat to teammate Dillon Brooks. Since the start of the Pac-12 Tournament, Dorsey has averaged 23.6 points.
Asked about his recent assertiveness after Oregon beat Rhode Island on Sunday, Dorsey said the key was not to think about scoring. “Like Coach always says, keep my focus first on defense and rebounding, and let the offense come.”
Dorsey grabbed five rebounds in each NCAA Tournament game in Sacramento, and also posted three steals against Rhode Island. He had nine boards in the Pac-12 Tournament opener. “When he’s playing as a player, not just a scorer, I think that’s when he really comes alive,” head coach Dana Altman said on Sunday.
In the first round against Iona, Dorsey scored all of his baskets right at the rim or beyond three-point range. He had a similar shot chart against Rhode Island, driving strong to the hoop and showing patience before finishing with either hand. That game will be remembered for his long-range daggers, though. He drained one from the wing after an offensive rebound to tie the game with 1:45 remaining.
With 40 seconds left and a bigger defender on him, Dorsey dribbled at the top of the key and let it fly, breaking a tie and scoring what would be the final points of a 75-72 win.READ MORE: Getting Hosed: A Look At The Universe Of Chicago Water, And Its Sometimes-Sordid History, This Earth Day
“They switched and the big got on me and I’ve practiced that hesitation pull-up shot a lot,” Dorsey said of his game-winner. “So in my mind I was going there. His hands never came up and I let it go.” Altman saw the same thing and yelled at Dorsey to shoot.
It was not a flawless performance from Dorsey and the Ducks. He had four turnovers; his two backcourt mates combined for seven more. Dorsey, a 73 percent foul shooter for the season, has gone 9 of 15 in the Tournament. He missed two with the game tied in the final minutes on Sunday. But his overall play has been sensational.
Rhode Island head coach Danny Hurley was disappointed his team lost Dorsey a few times while making defensive rotations, but credited the sophomore. “We didn’t do what we normally do in terms of guarding the three-point line tonight. I think that probably had a little bit more to do with the greatness of Tyler Dorsey.”
The 6’4” wing from Los Angeles will likely need another strong performance on Thursday night (7:09 pm ET, CBS). Michigan’s offense is operating at a very high level, and the 7-seed Wolverines are actually favored by the oddsmakers. Most teams game plan around Brooks, and rightfully so, but a fully engaged Dorsey is just as dangerous.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about college basketball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com, and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.
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