We’re now nine days into the college hoops season. Look around. Who’s played tough teams — and won against them? On Sunday night, one obvious answer emerged. Fact is, only a few teams have put together a pair of wins that will likely and ultimately reflect as well down the road as what Oregon has accomplished so far.
The Ducks have started their 2015-16 campaign with two NCAA Tournament-quality wins: over Baylor last Monday and, on Sunday, a 73-67 victory against stellar mid-major Valparaiso.
Here’s even better news for Ducks fans: Jordan Bell and Dylan Ennis, probably the two most important players for Dana Altman’s team, haven’t played a game yet.
On Sunday, Oregon was able to elbow off a Valpo team capable of winning 25-plus this season thanks to Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey. We told you in October how Dorsey was one of the best players in the sport. Against Valpo, he proved his vital role, combining with Brooks to put up 47 of Oregon’s 73 points. Brooks had 26 and 13 rebounds, while Dorsey posted 21 and snared five boards while shooting 7 for 9.
Both scoring outputs were career bests for Brooks and Dorsey.
It got a little hairy late, as Oregon led by eight with 2:20 to go but found itself in a one-possession game when the shot clock was no longer needed. Valpo’s Tevonn Walker hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 28.6 to go to make it a 69-67 game in favor of the Ducks. But with a four-point deficit in the closing seconds, Valpo star Alec Peters had two looks from deep yet failed to cash either shot.
With Bell and Ennis still a few weeks away from coming back, these wins carry huge value and will obviously keep Oregon ranked in our Top 25 (and one).
For Valpo, which could still end up being a dangerous 12 or 13 seed four months from now, it was another loss against a ranked program. The Crusaders are closing in on a two-decade drought since taking down a team with a number next to it. Sunday marked the program’s 38th straight loss against a ranked foe. The last time the Crusaders beat a ranked opponent? It was 1998. It was the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss was the opponent.
Bryce Drew hit the winning shot. You might remember it. Drew is now the coach for Valpo.