In Saturday’s game against the Arizona Wildcats, Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks did not get the result they were looking for.
A home matchup with the No. 9 team in the nation presented a great opportunity for the Ducks: the chance to pick up a quadrant 1 win and extend their lead in the Pac-12 standings. But instead, they walked away from the weekend still teetering on the March Madness bubble, with a difficult stretch in their schedule ahead of them.
Lately, Altman’s biggest focus for his team has been improving defense. He’s harped on the importance of Oregon holding their opponent to fewer than 80 points. Before Saturday, the Ducks were 2-5 in games where they gave up 80, and they’re now 2-6 after losing 87-78 to Arizona.
After the loss, Altman was asked about a need for his team to hit the reset button after losing three of their last four games.
“Basketball season is a long season, a lot of ups and downs,” Altman said. “This is a big down, so they will have to fight back. But we’re all judged by how we overcome adversity. The times are good, everybody’s good. Time’s are bad, gotta find a way to bounce back. So hopefully our guys will regroup and get some good leadership. We’ll be ready to go on Thursday.”
That difficult stretch ahead of the Ducks I mentioned earlier is a pair of games in Los Angeles, first against USC and then UCLA. Oregon played both schools in Eugene earlier this season, sweeping the pair. Since those games, the Trojans and the Bruins have struggled — although the Bruins are now on a four-game win streak — but they certainly won’t be easy teams to beat on the road. On their last road trip, the Ducks lost two in a row, something they’ll be looking to avoid this time around.
“We just take tomorrow and try to regroup,” Altman said. “We’ll go get the LA schools this week, so it’s obviously a big road trip. You have to play well. And guys just have to regroup and get ready to go.”
“We don’t have a choice,” center N’Faly Dante said. “We have to.”
20 games into the season, Oregon is 14-6 and 6-3 in the Pac-12. It’s an improvement from last year (the Ducks were 11-9 through 20 games in 2022-23), but Oregon certainly hasn’t maximized their potential. To keep their tournament hopes alive, picking up two wins on the road next week will be crucial.