After starting PAC-12 play with an undefeated 7-0 record, the Oregon Ducks have fallen from conference royalty with three consecutive losses and are struggling to stop the bleeding. Next week, the Ducks — currently ranked No. 19 in the country — could even drop out of the AP Top 25.
Before last night’s matchup with Colorado, Oregon (18-5, 7-3 PAC-12 Conference) was positioned .5 game behind first place Arizona. Instead of capitalizing on the opportunity to save what was a land-slide week, the Ducks lost to one of the worst teams in the conference, 48-47. There is now a three way tie for the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament between Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA.
The next challenge for the Ducks is PAC-12 lightweight Utah, who is last in the PAC-12 with a conference record of 2-8. The illustrious Utes shouldn’t be considered any sort of obstacle for Oregon. But at this rate, who can they beat?
Oregon fell victim to rotten luck when they lost their star point guard Dominic Artis, but haven’t been able to find any adequate replacement in the offensive scheme. Johnathon Loyd is the natural replacement, as he was Artis’ No. 2, but hasn’t been able to control the offense at all. The Ducks have committed 77 turnovers without Artis, and expect to have the freshman guard back for their matchup with Washington on Feb. 13.
In addition to halting the entire flow of the offense, Loyd has registered two scoreless efforts in three games. Granted, the Last time Utah (10-12, 2-8 PAC-12) visited Eugene, they suffered their worst loss in program history with a 94-48 defeat after starting the game in a 34-2 hole.
Even though a victory over the Utes won’t be anything to commend for the Ducks, their team needs something to be happy about. A win is a win, and a blowout would do a lot for the spirits of the Oregon rotation.
It’s still unknown whether Artis will be 100 percent healthy when he returns, or whether he will play to the potential he once had before going down with a foot injury. For a point guard that relies on slashing and getting to the basket, foot and ankle injuries are a death sentence.
The Oregon Ducks have a pulse that is reaching zero, and will need a jolt of life in order to salvage a No. 2 seed in the PAC-12 Conference. Will the Ducks finally get a win in conference play after starting undefeated? Will they find a way to minimize turnovers? We’ll have to leave those questions to be answered by the authorities.