Ducks rest up for stretch run
EUGENE — After suffering a pair of two-point losses in Arizona over 44 hours, Oregon gets about 188 hours before its next game.
The Ducks will go more than a week between games before hosting Oregon State Sunday at noon. That's the start of a strange week that includes a visit by Washington State on Wednesday, Feb. 19, before the Ducks go four days until Washington visits on Sunday.
"It's a good time to get a break," Oregon junior Joseph Young said after scoring 29 points in the second half of Oregon's 74-72 loss at Arizona State on Saturday. "Five of our last seven are at home, so we can get some energy going and the crowd will give us energy and make a run."
The Ducks were off Sunday and may get another day off during the week.
"Get plenty of rest and then get after it in practice," senior forward Mike Moser said.
Oregon (15-8) has lost three of its last four games, all by two points, and sits 10th in the Pac-12 at 3-8 after starting the season 13-0. The Ducks let a five-point lead get away in the final four minutes of a 67-65 loss at No. 2 Arizona on Thursday before rallying from a 21-point deficit only to lose at ASU two days later.
"We're in a tough situation," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "We are 3-8 in the league and you are who your record says you are. We have been in every game in the last four minutes and most until the last possession, so it hurts.
"A lot of that is coaching. We get in those situations and we haven't executed and that is as much me as anybody. I feel bad for the guys. We executed some things very well in the second half and got back in it, we just didn't finish."
Oregon shot 9-for-36 in the first half to fall behind ASU 43-23 but was 17-for-35 in the second half to take the lead before the Sun Devils rallied to win.
"It's tough, but at the same time, coach motivated us that if we play like we did in the second half in the first half, we'd be an unstoppable team," Young said. "Everybody commits to it, we take a couple days off to think about it, and get back to practice."
Young hit a shooting slump in the middle of the season but is averaging 22.3 points in Oregon's last four games. He was scoreless in the first half at Arizona and Arizona State but totaled 43 points in the second half of those games.
"That's what Joe does," Moser said. "He has been up and down of late, but that probably got him back on track."
Oregon does not keep scoring records for a half, but Young's 29-point performance in the second half certainly would rank near the top.
"I felt like we needed some energy," Young said. "As a group, I felt like we put the second half together. Now we need to put a full 40 together."
Altman made some changes to the lineup against the Sun Devils, including starting forward Richard Amardi after he came off the bench in the previous seven games.
Elgin Cook and Waverly Austin both saw their most playing time in a couple weeks and sparked Oregon's full-court press along with Johnathan Loyd in the second half.
"Elgin Cook and Johnny gave us tremendous energy and Wave, I thought those three off the bench really changed the game," Altman said.
Oregon's press also gave it a boost in the second half of its 78-66 win over USC last week.
"It was huge, Elgin and Johnny came in and changed the whole tempo of the game," Moser said after the ASU loss.
Moser said despite suffering another two-point loss, the second-half performance against Arizona State could be a spark the Ducks need.
"It gives us something to build on, lets us know what we are capable of," he said. "We said in the locker room, we are tired of moral victories. We need to put some wins on the board."