Oregon has battled through every imaginable obstacle a college basketball team can face and the Ducks are one game away from claiming the PAC-12 title. Unfortunately, Colorado, the team that headlined Oregon’s worst losing skid of the season, stands in their way.
On Feb. 7, Oregon was on pace to beat the Buffaloes after leading all but the final 26 seconds of play. In those 26 seconds, Colorado’s Andre Robinson was blocked by Arsalan Kazemi but grabbed his own rebound and scored the game-winning bucket. This devastating play was on the heals of two straight conference losses and the Ducks lost sole possession of first place in the PAC-12 Conference.
At that point, Oregon was playing without freshman point guard Dominic Artis and there didn’t appear to be any fitting replacement in the backcourt.
A lot has changed since February for Oregon. The Ducks have won five of their last six games, Artis has returned to the rotation and Dana Altman‘s crew is once again the best team out west. All that being said, no member of Oregon’s roster will say Colorado doesn’t make them a little nervous.
Oregon (23-6, 12-4 PAC-12) enters Thursday’s match-up with the Buffaloes much more prepared. Point guards Johnathon Loyd and Damyean Dotson have effectively found their rhythm in the backcourt and Artis is being used in limited roles off the bench.
In Oregon’s 85-75 win over Oregon State, Artis played 12 minutes and nailed both of his attempted three pointers to finish with six points. The Ducks only committed 10 turnovers in the victory and shot over 50 percent from the field.
Nothing would give the No. 19 Ducks more confidence than defeating the team that left them searching for answers earlier in the season. I guess a PAC-12 Title would be a suitable consolation prize for the previous embarrassment.
John Engel is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports, covering the PAC-12 and Mountain West conferences. John works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in addition to Rant Sports. Follow: @engelsportsguy.