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Late run, clampdown defense propels Oregon over Saint Joseph's 69-64

The NCAA Tournament nearly lost its first No. 1 seed, but the Ducks found their rhythm just in time.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon was minutes away from becoming the first No. 1 seed to exit the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Ducks found the extra gear that made them one the nation's hottest teams en route to a 69-64 win over Saint Joseph's.

Oregon trailed 58-51 with 4:45 left in the game, but clamped down on defense and launched a 13-4 run that put the Pac-12 champions in control with 1:20 on the clock. The Ducks' aggressive play forced Saint Joe's into a crunch time cold snap. The underdogs made only two shots in the final four minutes and turned the ball over twice as the top-seeded Ducks escaped to the Sweet Sixteen.

The shooting of Dillon Brooks and Elgin Cook salvaged an otherwise regrettable performance from the Oregon offense. Brooks and Cook combined for 43 of their team's 69 points. The pair combined to make 52 percent of their shots from the field while the rest of the Ducks' roster failed to shoot better than 29 percent.

Saint Joe's still had a puncher's chance as time wound down. Despite their ice-cold offense, the Hawks still had multiple chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute. Their first attempt was thwarted by a shot clock violation that kept Oregon ahead 64-62 with 49 seconds to play. Three Duck free throws and a DeAndre Bembry layup later, Saint Joseph's had one final chance to tie it when they regained possession trailing 67-64 with 24 seconds left. The Hawks attempted to hold the ball for the last shot, but sloppy passing led to a turnover at the top of the key that all but sunk Sunday's last upset bid.

Oregon advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth time in school history with the win. They'll face Duke with an Elite Eight bid on the line next week.

Bracket

Our updated bracket can be found here.

Sunday's final scores

No. 2 Villanova 87, No. 7 Iowa 68
No. 6 Notre Dame 76, No. 14 Stephen F. Austin 75
No. 2 Oklahoma 85, No. 10 VCU 81
No. 10 Syracuse 75, No. 15 Middle Tennessee 50
No. 5 Maryland 73, No. 13 Hawai'i 60
No. 3 Texas A&M 92, No. 11 Northern Iowa 88 (2OT)
No. 7 Wisconsin 66, No. 2 Xavier 63
No. 1 Oregon 69, No. 8 Saint Joseph's 64