Oregon Secures Must Win Over Utah

By John Engel
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Every conference has a set of self-titled “elite” teams, while the rest are doomed to be dominated each and every season.

The unbelievably sloppy play of the Oregon Ducks (19-5, 8-3 PAC-12) nearly flipped the script in the PAC -12 Conference. After trailing at halftime to the worst team in the entire conference, Utah, the Ducks secured their first PAC-12 win in four games Saturday night.

Oregon began the season with an undefeated 7-0 conference record, but lost three straight games since losing star freshman point guard Dominic Artis. More surprisingly, the Ducks’ last loss came by way of one of the most disappointing PAC-12 teams this season, Colorado. Oregon entered their game with Utah desperately needing a win after falling to the Buffaloes 48-47 just two days prior. By losing to the Buffaloes, the Ducks slipped into a three-way tie for second place in the conference standings with UCLA and Arizona State, and fell a full game behind top ranked Arizona.

In the end, the Ducks finally finished a conference game with a win and Dominic Artis is predicted to return in Oregon’s next game against Washington. Its win Saturday can be greatly attributed to back up point guard Johnathon Loyd‘s ability to take care of the basketball. In the previous four games, Oregon committed 77 turnovers as a team. Today, however, zero turnovers came by way of Loyd, who has been the weakest piece over the last four games for Oregon.

Finally the Ducks have something to build off of, and a win they can be happy with. Oregon’s struggles may have lost them the No. 2 seed, assuming UCLA tops last place Washington State at home tonight, but with minor corrections they will be contending for the crown once again. When healthy, no team has a better shot of taking down Arizona in the PAC-12 than the Ducks, and Artis will certainly help make that happen.

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