The woes on the hardwood continued for Oregon this past Sunday, as they dropped their fourth straight conference game to Oregon State. After mirroring the best start in school history with 13 consecutive victories, what looked to be a promising season has quickly turned into a nightmare of disarray for the Ducks.
Coming into Sunday’s game, an improvement on the defensive end was the key element to securing a win for Oregon, complementing the 3rd-highest scoring offense in the nation.
However, that wasn’t the case.
The defense forced 20 turnovers against their instate rivals, but offense was scarce for the Ducks. They shot just 38% from the field, and a mere 4-of-19 from behind the arc, resulting in a 80-72 loss. Jason Calliste added 17 points off the bench to lead Oregon in scoring.
Leading scorers Mike Moser and Joseph Young combined for an average of 33.4 points coming into the game, but were shut down by the Oregon State defense; the two combined for just 13 points on 5-of-24 from the field.
The Ducks struggled to move the ball around, and there was no team play in their offensive attack. Just six of Oregon’s 25 made shots were assisted, compared to their usual 15.5 per game, which ranks 36th in the nation.
Give credit to Oregon State’s defensive effort, which forced 11 turnovers and blocked nine shots against the Ducks.
As it stands, Oregon has 13 games left on the schedule, holding a 13-4 record, while 1-4 in Pac-12 play. They’re near the bottom of the conference standings, but they still have time to turn things around, being just four games behind No. 1 Arizona and California.
If you take the positive view, the Ducks still have two games against the Arizona Wildcats, in which they can swing the momentum back to their side – if they can upset the nation’s best — twice. The loss to Cal on the other hand remains a scar, as the Golden Bears 96-83 defeat over Oregon Jan. 9, is the only time the two teams meet this year.
The stretch will not be easy, but there is still hope if Oregon can play to the ability they are capable of. In the games remaining, five of the seven teams have a record of .500 or lower in conference play — all but two, Washington State and USC, have more than 10 victories this season. This shows just how tough it is to win on the road in this competitive conference, but it is something the Ducks have to be able to deal with.
Despite the downfall, Oregon is still valued in the top 25 teams in the country in both the RPI and BPI rankings, and projected a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
So the mid-season skid has really degraded their Pac-12 title hopes but a good seed in March is still feasible, though the Ducks must start winning – and fast. Their next matchup is Thursday, Jan. 23rd, in Seattle, where they take on the Washington Huskies (11-8, 3-3), in what I consider a must-win game for Oregon.
Top Photo By Kevin Cline