Oregon Ducks basketball continued to flounder defensively and went ice cold from the field in the second half in their 96-83 loss to the California Golden Bears. The game marked UO’s second straight loss and the 12th consecutive time the Ducks have faltered at the hands of the Golden Bears. The Ducks defense stayed consistently shaky all night long sans the first five minutes of the second half. Plus, despite starting 8-11, UO finished the game shooting 40 percent from the field.
With highly touted Freshman Jabari Bird out for the third game in a row with an ankle injury, it was another freshman who played lights out for California. Jordan Mathews, who had only been averaging a little over seven ppg, scored 32 against the Ducks. Mathews hit a couple jumpers early and never looked back, getting to the rim and free throw line at will, as well as knocking down shots. Along with shooting 9-9 from the free throw line and hitting 3-4 three’s, Mathews shot 10-14 from the field. UO F Mike Moser acknowledged that he wasn’t a big part of the team’s scouting report. Considering Mathews two point performance in Cal’s win over Stanford, no one could have predicted such a scoring barrage.
Joseph Young kept Oregon in it when no one else would in the second half. The guard scored 29 points and made 16 free throws. Two more and he would have tied the Oregon record for most made free throws in a game.
Though Young carried the Ducks offensively, he also made a number of defensive lapses and had trouble closing out on three point shooters.
“I was helping too long, I’d rather him shoot a three than get an open lay up. I just have to get there quicker,” Young said.
UO’s consecutive losses sparks the question of whether the Ducks have too many players receiving extended minutes. Before Dominc Artis and Ben Carter returned, the Ducks had just defeated Ole Miss and Illinois in back to back games and were sitting pretty at 7-0. UO head coach Dana Altman doesn’t believe it is mostly their fault, but acknowledges the rotation needs tweaking,
“We have a lot of disjointed parts, but the players that have been playing(the whole year) aren’t playing as well either.”
However, he isn’t sure how he will alter the rotation.
Because of injures to key bench players, out of necessity, California coach Mike Montgomery decided to rest almost the entire brunt of the work on his starters shoulders. Not only did Tyrone Wallace play the entire 40 minutes, but Mathews played 38 and no Cal starter sat on the bench for more than eight minutes.
As for UO, Young was the only player to play more than 30 minutes and Damyean Dotson and Mike Moser were the only other Ducks to play more than 25.
But no matter who plays, the Ducks have proven they can score more than enough points to beat anybody.
However, after a number of poor defensive performances on the season, Altman and co. must go back to the drawing board.
The Ducks trailed 46-42 at the half, but came out of the break with a ton of energy and only allowed Cal one basket in the first five minutes of half two. However, the rest of the game was a train wreck defensively. The Bears shot 17 free throws, shot 60 percent from three and made over 53 percent of their field goals in the second half. Plus, UO gave up points to Cal in 10 of the final 12 possessions of the game.
“Defensively we’re not very good. There’s no other way to put it,” Altman said.
“We definitely have to do some soul searching,” Moser added.
The Ducks next game is on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena against the Stanford Cardinal. Oregon will look to end its losing streak and end its two-game home stand on a positive note before heading off for a three game road trip.
“It’s not going to be an easy hole to dig out of,” Altman said.