GAME NOTES: The Oregon Ducks will try to pull themselves out of free-fall on Sunday, as they visit the Washington State Cougars for a Pac-12 Conference clash at Beasley Coliseum.
Oregon was once 13-0 and ranked No. 10 in the country. The Ducks' demise has been epic since such an impressive start, as they have lost five straight games, all in league play. They are now 13-5 overall and a disastrous 1-5 in the Pac-12. They will visit UCLA next.
Washington State has endured a brutal stretch since conference play began as well, with losses in six of their seven bouts against Pac-12 foes. The Cougars are 8-11 overall, with a 5-3 success rate on their home floor, where they will be again next Saturday against intrastate rival Washington.
The good news for the Ducks is they are facing an opponent on Sunday they have beaten in five straight meetings. Oregon's recent success has allowed it to extend its advantage in the all-time series to 162-123.
It came down to offensive execution for Oregon in its loss to Washington. The Ducks were only able to sink 42.9 percent of their shots from the floor, while the Huskies drained 57.8 percent of theirs. Joseph Young led the way for Oregon with 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field.
Struggling on offense was not an issue for Oregon early in the season, but they have had been below their scoring average for the season (86.8 ppg), which ranks fourth nationally, in each of the last four games. Young (18 ppg) is the fifth-best scorer in the Pac-12, but he had only 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting combined in the two games before facing Washington. Mike Moser (13.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg) has also been on a downward trajectory of late, with 17 points on 7-of-25 shooting combined over the last two games. Jason Calliste (11.2 ppg) and Damyean Dotson (11 ppg) are also averaging in double figures, although Calliste had 11 points against Washington and Dotson finished with eight.
Washington State matched up with Oregon State last Wednesday and fell short in a 66-55 decision. The Cougars did sink 50 percent of their shots from the floor, but they also allowed the Beavers to shoot 52.5 percent, while being outscored the free-throw line, 19-1.
The Cougars are not only at the bottom of the Pac-12 in terms of wins and losses, they also rank dead last in scoring (63 ppg), field goal percentage (.420), assists (10.8 apg) and rebounds (33.4 rpg). At the other end, they have had more success, limiting foes to 64.7 ppg and 44.3 percent shooting, although three of the last five opponents have scored at least 71 points. Que Johnson (10.8 ppg) has really had to step up his game to replace leading scorer DaVonte Lacy (17.7 ppg), who has been out since early January with torn cartilage in his ribs. Johnson had 15 points against Oregon State, while D.J. Shelton (8.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg) logged 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Panic has set in for Oregon, which has been unable to buy a way to win of late. Playing against the offensively-challenged Cougars, even on the road, should help get the Ducks flying straight again.
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