EUGENE, Ore.- For those that have wondered how good the 2013 Oregon basketball team would be like if Dominic Artis had stuck with his commitment to UCLA, the last four games have provided that opportunity.
The answer is not very good. Oregon (18-5, 7-3) dropped its third game in a row, losing to Colorado Thursday night 48-47, moving to 1-3 without its starting point guard. The loss also ended the Ducks 20-game winning streak at Matthew Knight Arena, the third longest in school history.
The Ducks led for the entirety of the game, before Colorado’s Andre Roberson converted a rebound-basket to give the Buffaloes the a one-point lead with 23 seconds left. Oregon was unable to score on its final possession.
Much like their loss to California Saturday, Oregon led by seven points with 4:29 remaining, before going scoreless for the remainder of the game. Against the Golden Bears, they’d held a six point lead with 4:02 remaining before California scored the last ten points.
“We just didn’t get stops down the stretch. It’s really hurt us the last two games,” said E.J. Singler who finished with a game-high 14 points.
On Thursday it was the inability to keep Colorado forward Roberson and center Josh Scott off the glass. Each of the Buffaloes final three baskets came off of offensive rebounds, one by Scott and two by Roberson, including the go-ahead hoop.
“The difference in the game was offensive rebounding. They had 17 second chance points…none more obvious than the ones in the last four minutes,” said head coach Dana Altman.
“It’s really frustrating, that [keeping Colorado off the offensive glass] was one of our emphasis tonight… We weren’t successful,” said senior Tony Woods.
It didn’t help matters, that Oregon attempted just two free throws on the game, and Colorado was called for just seven fouls.
Asked if he’d ever coached a team that attempted that few free throws, Altman replied with “I don’t believe so. I don’t believe so.
Singler, who attempted the final shot of the game, a turnaround jumper that fell a foot short, said his defender, Spencer Dinwiddie “got a piece of my hand.”
“It’s hard to make that call down the stretch. So, I don’t know [if it was a foul],” he said.
The Ducks were an abysmal 3-15 from three-point range, adding to a relentless shooting slump that started last weekend in the Bay Area .
The poor percentage is in part due to a change of defensive philosophy teams have adapted with Artis’ absence. Instead of honoring Artis’ perimeter shooting, defenses now sag off Johnathan Loyd and Willie Moore, baiting them to shoot. Loyd attempted seven shots, four from three-point range, missing each of them.
“DA [Artis] spreads the floor, because his guy has to stay on him. With our inability to hit perimeter shots, not only by Johnny and Willie, the floor has shrunk and it’s made it tough to drive to the basket and throw the ball inside. There’s a lot of people in there,” Atlman said
Loyd’s lackluster play Thursday begs the question, is he capable of playing the position? And if he is, where’s his head at after perhaps his worst game of the season?
“It’s got to be shaken a little bit. He was playing his role and doing a great job, we’re asking him to do a lot more,” Altman said. "He had a lot of open looks tonight. They didn’t go. So I’m sure it will be. He’s going to have to bounce back. He’s going to have to fight it.
The Ducks had built a nine-game winning streak prior to their current three-game slide, but now face the difficulty of righting the ship over the final month of Pac-12 play.
“We had things rolling pretty good. The tide has turned and now it’s going to take some character to turn it back,” Altman said.
Oregon will have one day of preparation before taking the court Saturday versus Utah. In that time Oregon will need to fix its rattled psyche.
“It’s up to our seniors to get back at it. It starts tomorrow in practice and film. We can’t have these losses weigh us down. We’ve got to keep pushing forward,” Singler said.
Altman remained unsure of when Artis will return, saying that it’s up to the doctors to clear him.