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#WhatIf tournament: Oregon cuts down hypothetical nets

Updated April 6, 2020 - 3:38 pm

Editor’s note: Review-Journal sports reporter — and college basketball guru — Adam Hill chronicles the What If Tournament that he began with his Selection Sunday unveiling of the 68 teams. Monday: result of the national championship game.

The celebration began in East Lansing when Rocket Watts hit a 3-pointer with 2:19 left to give Michigan State a five-point lead over Oregon in the national title game of the Review-Journal’s What If Tournament.

But it proved a bit premature, as the Spartans never scored again.

Anthony Mathis and Payton Pritchard keyed an 11-0 run to close the game and lead the Ducks to an 84-78 win and their first national championship since 1939.

Mathis took a pass from Pritchard on the right wing and buried an open 3-pointer to answer Watts 12 seconds later.

Pritchard then tied the score with a steal and layup.

Mathis put Oregon ahead on the next possession with a short jumper after Cassius Winston missed the front end of a one-and-one. Winston’s missed floater in the lane started a run of five straight missed field goals in the final 90 seconds for the Spartans.

Chris Duarte made two free throws with 23 seconds left and Pritchard hit two with 2.8 left to close the scoring.

Pritchard capped a Most Outstanding Player run in the tournament with 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Mathis had 19 points, including a 5-for-8 performance on 3-pointers for the fourth-seeded Ducks.

Former UNLV forward Shakur Juiston, who spent his graduate transfer year at Oregon, had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Michigan State, which led 40-36 at halftime and extended the advantage to 57-49 with 13:47 to play after Winston hit a short jumper, allowed the Ducks to shoot 53 percent from the field.

Winston had 19 points and seven assists before fouling out in the closing seconds. Xavier Tillman added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the second-seeded Spartans.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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