The Oregon Ducks have, in recent years, played well down the stretch of regular seasons heading into the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament under head coach Dana Altman.
That isn’t the case this season, though Oregon has a chance to win out and earn a first-round bye in Las Vegas next month. Hopes for a winning streak to close out regular-season play hinge on a win over in-state rival Oregon State Saturday night on the road in Corvallis, Ore.
The Ducks (15-13, 9-8 Pac-12) have lost three straight games and find themselves in sixth place in the conference and facing their first day game in the conference tournament. The top four teams earn a bye to the quarterfinals.
Oregon trails Arizona State by one game and Utah by a half-game. Arizona State holds the No. 4 seed at 10-7.
The Ducks’ best player this season on both ends of the court has been center N’Faly Dante, who is averaging 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
But opponents have dared the Ducks to shoot from distance while double-teaming Dante down low. And Oregon has not been able to consistently take advantage from 3-point range. Part of the reason for their recent struggles is that point guard Will Richardson is dealing with nagging injuries to his hand, hip and finger and could be limited against Oregon State.
“Guys respect the fact that he’s trying to play hurt,” Altman said of Richardson. “They know he’s not healthy.”
The Beavers (10-18, 4-13) are in 11th place and have lost five of their last six games. They fell 77-68 at Oregon earlier this season on New Year’s Eve and have lost four straight games to the Ducks in the overall series.
Jordan Pope is Oregon State’s leading scorer at 12.7 points per game.
The Oregon-Oregon State men’s basketball rivalry is the most contested in all of college basketball, according to Beavers sports information. Saturday’s game will mark the 362nd meeting between the longtime rivals.
–Field Level Media