After VCU received multiple positive tests causing Oregon to advance to the Round of 32 without playing a game, just one contest stood between Oregon and the fifth Sweet 16 appearance in the Dana Altman era.
Or more specifically, National Player of the Year Luka Garza stood in their way.
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While Oregon won the game handily, the 6'11", 265-pound senior dominated the Ducks inside the paint scoring 36 points on 14-20 from the floor, including multiple and-one's in the first half.
"We knew we couldn't stop him," explained Dana Altman. "He averages 24 a game, on a bad night he gets 18 and without a physical presence inside we knew we were going to have trouble containing him.
But that statline was by design. Oregon knew it had a size disadvantage but it could not allow Garza's teammates to beat them from distance.
"We knew we didn't match up inside with him so we wanted to make sure the threes didn't kill us," added the Ducks head coach.
Garza may be the nation's best player, but he cannot beat a team as well-coached and as talented as Oregon himself.
"We knew Garza was going to get his points," said Chris Duarte. "Our plan was get stops, play defense and play hard. Get on the boards and that's what we did."
To slow down Iowa's offense it was going to take a team effort and Altman commended his players' effort and communication on defense after the game.
"I thought our guys did a tremendous job with focus and talking on the defensive end."
But, while they knew Garza would "get his points," the Ducks still wanted to make it as hard on Garza as possible.
"Not let him catch the ball easy," said Duarte while discussing Oregon's gameplan heading into the game. "We tried to front him every time we could."
Additionally, double-teams largely only came his way when he put the ball on the floor which would make it harder for him to pass out off to the open man.
It helped Iowa was cold from beyond the arc, too, with Garza's teammates shooting 23.8% from three-point range Monday.
"It got a little easier because they weren't shooting the ball real well from three," said Altman.
While it was a team effort, one player was singled out for his defense against Garza: Eugene Omoruyi.
"Eugene was great," Duarte said of his 6'6" teammate. "He did a really good job defending, trying to [stop] Luka Garza. He was great."
"Eugene is our most physical player," added Altman. "He battled his tail off in there, giving up five, six inches and 20-something pounds. He battled.
Also, the Ducks knew they could take advantage of Garza's lack of lateral quickness when Oregon had the ball. His poor defense is a large reason he may not be drafted until the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft.
"We knew we are quicker than them so we said we have to take advantage of that, and we did," Duarte said.
Despite a monster statline from Garza, Oregon left the floor advancing to the Sweet 16.
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