Oregon and California are both in similar situations late in 2013 PAC-12 Conference play. While the Ducks are trying to find a permanent replacement for downed guard Dominic Artis, Cal is still trying to put the altercation between star guard Allen Crabbe and head coach Mike Montgomery behind them.
Will Damyean Dotson and Johnathon Loyd ban together once again — the two shined in an overtime victory over Washington State — to end a streak of 11 consecutive losses at the hand of the Golden Bears? Have Crabbe and Montgomery put their differences aside? Both of these questions will be answered tonight in Eugene, Oreg.
The No. 23 Ducks risked falling out of the AP Top 25 following a two-week span which included three straight losses to conference opponents. The skid allowed Arizona and UCLA to join Oregon in a three-way tie for first place in the PAC-12, but the Ducks have since gained a .5 game lead over the Wildcats. Oregon has the opportunity to gain a valuable full game lead over Arizona with a victory over Cal.
The NCAA decided not to suspend Montgomery for shoving Crabbe during a timeout against Southern California, and I couldn’t agree more with the ruling. Not only did Crabbe seem fairly unfazed by the scuffle, but the guard responded with 14 of his 23 points for Cal following the incident.
Players of Crabbe’s caliber have the maturity to quickly move on from events of this nature. Crabbe currently leads the PAC-12 in scoring with nearly 20 points a game, and will be instrumental in a difficult road matchup with the first place Ducks.
Though the Ducks are still transitioning away from their dependence on Artis, road victories are difficult to come by in Matthew Knight Arena. Oregon is 21-1 at home this season, with their only loss coming against Colorado during their first few games without Artis.
Loyd will never be a dominant scorer for the Ducks, but it appears head coach Dana Altman has found the answer in Dotson. Given only three-star recruit status in the Class of 2012, Dotson has been overshadowed by Artis all season long. Dotson has finished in double figures in each of the last three games, and is solidifying himself as a premier scorer in the conference. At 6-feet 5-inches and 205 lbs, Dotson perfectly fits the bill of a dominant guard at the next level.
Both the Ducks and Golden Bears have fallen under unfortunate circumstances of late, but both teams appear to have the answers. Crabbe has responded to the altercation with his coach with one of his best performances of the season, and Dotson has emerged as Oregon’s most lethal scoring weapon.