EUGENE — An Oregon men's basketball team that was rising up the rankings and beginning to dream big has been humbled.
Barely a week after being ranked No. 10 in the country following a 13-0 start, the Ducks (13-3) have lost three straight, are unranked and tied for eighth in the Pac-12 at 1-3. They're looking ahead to Sunday's trip to Oregon State (9-7), which is also 1-3 in conference games.
"We can't worry about anything but the next game," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "We were worried about winning the league and all these things and obviously, we didn't handle it very well. We need to quit worrying about the conference race and just worry about getting better and playing Oregon State.
"I am sure they feel the same way. They are going to be anxious to get us."
After losing at Colorado last week, the Ducks returned home to get swept by California and Stanford. Now it is three straight road games with a trip to the Washington schools following the drive to Corvallis.
"It's going to make or break us after losing three straight," Oregon senior Mike Moser said. "We're desperate right now."
Altman wasn't prepared to make quite as drastic of a statement.
"Make or break? I don't know about that," he said. "It is a long season, a lot can happen. Teams get hot at different times."
Altman recalled the last time his team's confidence took a hit last year when it lost at Colorado and Utah to finish the regular season and end its hopes of a conference crown. The Ducks then won the Pac-12 tournament title and added two NCAA tournament wins to reach the Sweet 16.
"There is nothing we can change, the last week was the last week," Altman said. "That eight days did happen. We've had bad weeks before and the guys have come back.
"Last year, we had a bad week against Colorado and Utah and we bounced back to win five in a row. This is not the first time we've had a bad week, but how do the guys respond and the task of going on the road for three in a row is pretty tough. We have got a lot of work to do to get our psyche right and convince them we are still a good team."
That's the plan: to look ahead and not behind.
"Keep playing, it's a long season," senior guard Jason Calliste said. "This week is over with, so we move on to the next week. It was a bad week, it happens."
The Ducks have almost a full week without a game to prepare for the Beavers.
"Frustration, that is what the next week will be about," Moser said. "Going at each other and trying to get better. Obviously, we are not where we want to be."
That is particularly the case on defense as Oregon has allowed each of its last three opponents to shoot at least 52 percent from the field while allowing an average of 92.3 points per game.
"We're a good offensive team, but defensively and rebounding, we have got to put guys in different positions," Altman said. "I'm not sure what the answer is. We have a lot of work ahead of us to try and get better. We have to try and make drastic changes to guard a whole lot better. That's three games in a row where teams scored a lot of points and shot 50 percent on us."
Oregon has been outrebounded by six in each of its three losses and opponents have been able to score inside.
"Teams are getting to the rim and scoring inside and now we play Oregon State, which may be the biggest team of all, so it is a concern," Altman said. "How we try to adjust to that remains to be seen."
Oregon will study some of its available adjustments.
"On the defensive end, we're going to have to change some things up," Altman said. "I'm not sure what the answer is, but we have a week here to work on it and we'll have to try something different, because what we are doing now is not working. ... At times our effort is outstanding, but we are getting out of position."
Altman has preached defense since the season started and Oregon's deficiencies on that end have shown up in the three straight defeats.
"They can look at the shooting percentages and see we gave up 52 percent and 42 percent from the 3-point line and got outrebounded, the guys know that," Altman said. "Now are we willing to do the tough things to get that straightened out?"
It's all part of a humbling week for the Ducks.
"This is going to weigh on them," Altman said. "It will be a long week, a tough week, and our character will be tested. How tight of a team we are will be tested. We did not handle that well this week, so hopefully we will be better next week."