Stanford made short order of Oregon’s time spent in the top 10, beating the Ducks 76-52 Wednesday night. A lot of that is due to the absence of starting freshman point guard Dominic Artis. Oregon needs Artis, and they need him badly. Plain and simple.
In the two games Artis has missed with a foot injury, Oregon has committed 43 turnovers. With Artis in the lineup, Oregon commits six fewer turnovers per game and an even larger margin in Pac-12 play.
Oregon only had four assists against Stanford; Artis averages nearly four assists a game himself. Even though Artis is only a freshman, he is the floor general for the Ducks. He is the player who sets the offense and defense, the player who is at the top of the play, the player who makes first contact with how almost every play goes.
Jonathan Loyd, a junior who is starting in place of Artis, finished with zero points and zero assists in 23 minutes. Loyd has been a part of the program for three seasons, starting in spots and playing a lot at the end of the games but even he can’t lead the team like Artis can.
Artis makes an impact on both ends of the court. On offense, Artis is extremely skilled at getting into the paint to either score, dump a pass off to one of his big men for an easy score, or kick the ball out for an open three-pointer on the wing. As one of Oregon’s five double digit scorers, Artis make the offense dynamic in a way its other guards can’t.
Defensively, Artis doesn’t allow his man to break down the defense and penetrate into the middle. Too many times during the Stanford game, Stanford’s guards would take their man off the dribble and give an easy pass to one of their bigs for an easy dunk. That formula lead to 14 points for Stanford’s Josh Huestis and 12 points for Josh Powell.
Oregon limped out of the first half missing their first three pointers without Artis, leading to a season low 52 points. Second on the team in three-point percentage, Artis certainly would have improved Oregon’s 4/16 shooting from long-range.
And while Oregon squeezed out a close win against Washington last Saturday, Washington cut a double digit deficit late to make it a free throw game to end it. Washington was able to cut Oregon’s lead in large part due to the lack of Artis’ calming presence on the floor.
There will be a gelling process for Oregon learning to play without Artis, but in the midst of Pac-12 play, it will have to come quick.
Artis will miss Oregon’s next game Saturday against 11-8 California, but will hope to be back around the time of Oregon’s next home game February 7. And even though Artis would rather be on the floor then on the bench, he knows not to come back too quickly.