Absence of Dominic Artis will pose a challenge for first-place Oregon

If Oregon is going to maintain its stranglehold on first place in the Pac-12, the tenth-ranked Ducks will have to do it without their starting point guard.

Dominic Artis will not play this week when the Ducks visit Stanford and Cal as a result of the foot injury that sidelined him for Saturday's victory over Washington, Oregon coach Dana Altman told reporters. Altman estimated on SiriusXM's Inside College Basketball that Artis will miss anywhere from three to five games, putting his status in jeopardy for next week's homestand against Colorado and Utah as well as a Feb. 13 road game against Washington.

The loss of Artis deprives Oregon of its catalyst on offense and a strong on-ball defender on defense. Artis had started the first 19 games of the season at point guard and averaged 10.2 points and 3.8 assists while cutting down his turnovers as he became comfortable at the collegiate level.

In Artis' absence, Oregon committed 23 turnovers during Saturday's 81-76 victory over Washington, nine by his replacements. Johnathan Loyd started in place of Artis and had nine points and five assists but also five turnovers. Willie Moore assumed Loyd's former backup role, chipping in nine points and two assists to go with four turnovers.

Those turnover numbers cannot continue as the Ducks head to the Bay Area, where they have traditionally struggled. Not only has Oregon not swept Cal and Stanford on the road since 1976, the Ducks endured a 24-game losing streak at Maples Pavilion that ended in 2011 and they haven't beaten Cal during Altman's tenure.

The good news for Oregon is it has built some leeway thanks to its torrid start to league play. At 18-2 overall and 7-0 in Pac-12 play, the Ducks are the lone unbeaten team in the Pac-12 and they've beaten two-loss UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State already in their lone meetings with all three of those teams.

So even without Artis for another couple weeks, the Ducks are in enviable position. They'd rather not have to take a loss or two in his absence, but they can survive it if necessary.

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