The outcome of the game wasn’t exactly what Canadian Eugene Omoruyi was hoping for, as the Oregon Ducks bowed-out of the 2021 NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis with an 82-68 sweet-sixteen loss to rivals University of Southern California (USC) Trojans.
Playing on March Madness prime-time and willingly aware that his NCAA college basketball days were potentially 40 minutes away from ending — Omoruyi emptied the tank and left it all on the floor on his way to arguably a top five performance by a Canadian in NCAA men’s basketball tournament history.
Omoruyi’s 28 points, 10 rebounds double-double on 9-of-19 shooting, 2-of-5 three-pointers, 8-of-8 free-throws kept Oregon within striking distance in the second-half, cutting a 20-point deficit to 9. The Rexdale, Ontario native also contributed with 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot in 35 minutes.
Digging deep in the research crates, Omoruyi’s sweet-sixteen performance is right-up there with the best to ever do it in the single-elimination, pressure cooker NCAA tournament, that has turned unknown players to household NBA names.
According to BasketballBuzz Stats, only three other Canadian basketball players have scored more points in a NCAA men’s basketball tournament game. Washington Huskies forward Bob Houbregs (Vancouver, BC) dropping 45 and 42-point pieces on Seattle (West Regional Final/Final Four) and LSU (third-place) in a five-day span in 1953.
Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke (Vancouver, BC) 36 points and 8 rebounds, 2019 second-round explosion against Baylor not only set a Gonzaga school record, it was the most scored by a Canadian since Houbregs magical season.
The pride of Winnipeg, Manitoba and former Washington Huskies center Todd MacCulloch notched a monster double-double of the 31 points and 18 rebounds against the Richmond Spiders in the second-round in 1998.
Hall-famer Steve Nash (Victoria, BC) racked-up a double-double with 28 points and 12 assists to lead the Santa Clara Broncos past the Maryland Terrapins in the opening round of the 1996 tournament.
Omoruyi’s 28 points were sixth-most in Oregon single-game NCAA Tournament history. He also became the first player in the school’s basketball history to record at least 25+ points and 10 rebounds and only the tenth player since 2020 to have 28+ and 10 in a regional round game — joining names like Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Dwyane Wade.
The Ducks won the Pac-12 regular-season title for the fourth time in the last six years, and were one of just three teams — along with Gonzaga and Michigan — to reach the Sweet Sixteen in four of the last five NCAA Tournaments.
Omoruyi scored in double figures for the 26th time in 28 games on the season.
Other notable March Madness performances by Canadians include freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 27 points, 6 rebounds. Kelly Olynyk 26 points and 9 rebounds against Wichita State. Former Oregon Ducks’ Dillon Brooks scored 25 points.