Oregon's season-long concern with turnovers is likely to become a priority in practices this week as the Ducks prepare for their Friday meeting with Louisville in a Midwest Regional semifinal in Indianapolis.
Nobody can cause an opponent to turn the basketball over quite like the Cardinals, who have forced both of their NCAA tournament opponents into season-high totals for turnovers.
"You can't simulate how they come at you, and I knew it," Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said of the Cardinals' defensive pressure. "You really don't know how good they are until you have to sit there and watch them come at you, and they just keep coming at you and keep coming at you."
In an 82-56 victory over Colorado State, the Cardinals forced the Rams into 20 turnovers, double the season average for CSU. In its previous game, Louisville had 20 steals, a record for an NCAA tournament game, while forcing North Carolina A&T into a season-high 27 turnovers.
Even in Oregon's otherwise impressive victory over Saint Louis, "we turned the ball over too much, which is a big concern knowing what we've got in front of us," UO coach Dana Altman said as he previewed playing the Cardinals.
The Ducks had 18 turnovers against Saint Louis, eight of them by senior E.J. Singler and four more by backup point guard Johnathan Loyd. That followed 18 turnovers by the Ducks in a victory over Oklahoma State, which Altman termed "ridiculous."
Oregon is averaging 15 turnovers, the most in the Pac-12. Louisville forced its opponents into an average of 19 turnovers.
Two players of prime recruiting interest to the Ducks had their seasons end in a disappointing fashion Saturday night.
In the title game of the national junior college tournament, UO commit Elgin Cook scored 15 points but his Northwest Florida State College team suffered a 74-69 loss to College of Central Florida. The 6-foot-6 Cook, who chose the Ducks over Gonzaga and others, was named to the all-tournament team at the event in Hutchinson, Kan.
At the title game of the open division of the California state high school playoffs, Aaron Gordon scored 22 points and had 20 rebounds, but his Archbishop Mitty team lost to Mater Dei, 50-45. The 6-8 Gordon, twice named the state player of the year in California and one of the nation's top uncommitted prep seniors, has Oregon among his final four choices for a college, along with Arizona, Kentucky and Washington.
Gordon recently said he would announce his college decision on April 3, when he plays in the McDonald's All-American game in Chicago. The spring signing period begins April 17.
Oregon's game Friday against Louisville will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium, known primarily as the home facility of the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League.
Opened in 2008, the stadium was designed with the idea of also hosting major basketball events, including the Final Four that was played there in 2010, with a seating capacity of 70,000.
Oregon played in a similar facility at the Midwest Regional in 2007, the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis which is the home of the NFL Rams.
Oregon has won two of the previous three meetings with Louisville, though the two teams have never met in the NCAA tournament.
The last game between the two schools was played Nov. 24, 2001, with the Ducks posting a 90-63 win in Portland. A year before that, Oregon won 88-65 over the Cardinals in Louisville.