To stay on track for at least a share of its first Pac-12 title in 11 years, Oregon must take care of an opponent which has proved awfully pesky to the Ducks recently.
That team is Colorado, which upset Oregon four weeks ago and has won three of four against the Ducks over the past 13 months heading into Thursday night's matchup in Boulder.
Oregon (23-6, 12-4) has won five of six since a 48-47 home loss to the Buffaloes on Feb. 7. The Ducks, who close the regular season Saturday at Utah, are seeking their first conference crown since 2002.
Better play in the first 20 minutes could go a long way in helping their cause, having trailed at halftime in three of the past six games and leading by no more than six points at the break in the other three.
Oregon was behind by seven at halftime of its most recent game despite playing at home against sub-.500 Oregon State, but went on to win 85-75 last Thursday.
"We've got to start earlier," said E.J. Singler, the team's leading scorer with 11.5 points per game. "We've got to have better starts, especially these last two games away at Colorado and Utah. It's not something we want to do, coming back all the time."
Oregon also should see freshman guard Damyean Dotson (11.0 ppg) return after he left in the first half last Thursday following a hard fall to the court. The week off between games should prove crucial for Dotson, coach Dana Altman said.
"He worked hard to try to get it loosened up, but he just couldn't move," Altman said. "We're fortunate we got a week."
Fortunately for the Ducks, Carlos Emory continued his tear, lessening the loss of Dotson. Emory scored a career-high 21 against the Beavers and is averaging 18.3 points on 54.0 percent shooting over the last four games.
Colorado (19-9, 9-7) hopes to shake off its worst loss in conference play - 62-46 at California on Saturday - to win its ninth game in 12 tries. The Buffaloes hope top scorers Spencer Dinwiddie (15.2 ppg) and Askia Booker (12.8 ppg) can bounce back from poor performances against the Bears, as the two combined to go 4 of 26 from the floor for 15 points.
Neither played well in the first meeting, combining for 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting, but Colorado pulled off its third one-point win in four meetings with Oregon since February 2012.
The difference in that game was Andre Roberson's layup with 23 seconds left. Roberson also hit the go-ahead layup with 10 seconds left in a 63-62 victory over the Ducks in last year's Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals, and the Buffaloes went on to win the title.
Roberson, the conference's top rebounder at 11.5 per game, had one of his 11 double-doubles this season in the last meeting.
Oregon, though, played that game without point guard Dominic Artis, who has since returned after missing nine games with a foot injury.
Artis, who averages 10.0 points and a team-leading 3.6 assists, had six points over 12 minutes against the Beavers, his first game since Jan. 23.
Oregon is 18-2 with Artis while averaging 76.4 points and 14.7 assists, compared to 5-4 otherwise with 63.8 points and 10.1 assists per game.
"He makes a huge difference, he gives them an extra shooter on the floor that stretches your defense," Colorado coach Tad Boyle told the team's official website. "He's a good player. You just look at their offensive numbers and their record with him and without him, it's pretty significant."
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