"We started out a little nervous. We made a few deer in the headlight type plays," Oregon Assistant Coach Greg Graham told the Oregon Sports Network.
The Ducks came right back as they had all season, putting together a couple of strings of made baskets, cutting it to a two point game with 12:40 left. Kansas got hot, scoring 11 of the next 13 points, and going up 13, their biggest lead of the first half on a Collison jumper with 8:40 to go.
Oregon charged back again, putting together a 12-0 run, including two powerful dunks by Freddie Jones, and a Jones three pointer to tie it all up at 40 with 2:55 left. The Jayhawks put yet another run together, finishing the half by outscoring the Ducks 8-2, and held onto the lead, 48-42.
The second half showed that Oregon could still hang with Kansas, even after an 8-0 Kansas run. Freddie Jones kept his composure and stopped the KU momentum with a dunk and three pointer to bring Oregon to within seven with 11:30 left.
A 7-0 Kansas run was countered by back to back Anthony Lever three pointers, and the Kansas lead was still only eight points with a little over nine minutes to play. Oregon tried to get their offense going, but Kansas was too tough inside, anticipating Duck passes. Another Kansas run, this time 10-0, put it away. Two Drew Gooden free throws gave Kansas an 87-72 lead with 4:23 left.
As the game came to a close, Oregon's Mark Michaelis drilled a three pointer to make the final score, Kansas 104, Oregon 85.
Looking for one stat that made a difference in this game, one would have to look at rebounds. Kansas outrebounded the Ducks 61-31. Much of that was due to Kansas' strong, quick and agile big men.
"We got a lot of boards, and that was key today," Collison told CBS after the game.
Kansas also had a huge advantage at the free throw line, taking 29 attempts compared to Oregon's ten. The Jayhawks made 21 of their shots, while Oregon made only seven. Much of that could be attributed to Kansas' aggressive style inside, creating opportunities to draw fouls.
The Jayhawks were led by Collison's 25 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Freshman guard Keith Langford added 20 points and eight rebounds. Gooden had 18 points and 20 rebounds. Also in double figures were Kirk Hinrich and Jeff Boschee, with 14 and 10 points respectively.
"There might be a couple of records in rebounds out there (for Kansas)," Graham told OSN.
Jones had another phenomenal game today for the Ducks, scoring 32 points in 37 minutes. Lever scored 13 points off the bench. He made three of the six three pointers he attempted. Robert Johnson had another solid game and a double double for the Ducks with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Kansas will next head to Atlanta and the Final Four. The Jayhawks will play the winner of the Maryland vs. Connecticut game next Saturday.
Oregon ends a remarkable season 26-9, with a 16-0 record in Mac Court in Eugene. The season that featured wins over Louisville, Pepperdine, Wake Forest, Texas, UCLA (twice), USC (twice), Arizona (twice), and Stanford, among others, not to mention a PAC-10 Championship will be one to remember.
"We knew we could play with all these teams in the tournament, but winning the Pac-10 Title was really special," Oregon center Chris Christoffersen told OSN.
Oregon has a strong squad coming back next year, and with the new recruits coming in, Coach Graham believes that this will be a formidable opponent for Pac-10 rivals for years to come.
"The hard part is getting here the first time," Graham said. "Now that we've been here we understand it and know what it takes. We've laid a good foundation. We'll be right back in it next year."