No. 19 Oregon reeling after 3rd straight loss
By ANNE M. PETERSON
EUGENE, Ore. — Just 11 days ago, Oregon was riding a seven-game winning streak and had broken into the top 10 in The Associated Press poll for the team’s highest ranking since late 2007.
Since then, the high-flying Ducks have come back to earth.
Nineteenth-ranked Oregon (18-5, 7-3 Pac-12) was dealt its third straight loss on Thursday night. Colorado (15-7, 5-5) scored the final eight points of the game for a 48-47 upset, the Buffaloes’ first victory in Eugene since 1955.
The loss snapped Oregon’s 20-game winning streak at home, the third-longest in school history.
It also dropped the Ducks out of first place in the Pac-12 standings. Oregon now rests in a tangle for second with Arizona State (18-5, 7-3) and UCLA (17-6, 7-3) behind No. 7 Arizona (20-2, 8-2).
“We cannot have these losses weigh us down,” Ducks senior forward E.J. Singler, younger brother of Detroit Pistons forward Kyle Singler, said after the loss. “We have to keep playing and get back into a momentum.”
The Ducks climbed to No. 10 in the polls after winning all but two of their non-conference games and opening Pac-12 play with seven straight wins. It was Oregon’s best league start in 87 years.
Oregon’s raucous student section, known as the Pit Crew, would chant “Just Like Football!” at opponents.
Included in the streak were a pair of victories over ranked teams: a 77-66 win at home over the then-No. 4 Wildcats and a 76-67 win over the then-No. 24 Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.
But last week Oregon embarked on a Bay Area series against unranked Stanford and California. The Cardinal downed the Ducks 76-52 before the Golden Bears won 58-54.
The return home to Matthew Knight Arena was supposed to bring the Ducks some relief. But the Buffaloes hung tough. Singler had a chance to win it for Oregon but his long jumper was tipped by Spencer Dinwiddie and fell into the hands of Colorado’s Andre Roberson under the basket with 1.1 seconds left.
“We did not execute when it comes down to it,” center Tony Woods said. “We were turning over the ball too much in the last few minutes and they were getting those second chance points.”
Part of the reason for the Ducks’ struggles is the absence of freshman point guard Dominic Artis, who has missed four games with a left foot injury. He is not expected to play Saturday against Utah.
Artis averages 10.2 points and a team-leading 3.8 assists. His absence leads to another issue: In the past four games without Artis, Oregon has had 77 turnovers. The Ducks lead the conference with an average of 16 turnovers per game.
Oregon next hosts Utah on Saturday evening. The Utes (10-12, 2-8) are coming off an 82-64 loss to Oregon State (12-11, 2-8) on Wednesday night.
“Look forward to the next game, look forward to the next practice and the next play. And move on,” said Utah freshman guard Brandon Taylor.
The Ducks were viewing Saturday’s game in much the same way.
“Our guys have worked awfully hard, and in the past week we’ve given a lot back. Five o’clock on Saturday, we’ll have to turn it around,” coach Dana Altman said.
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