Coming off a stinging loss versus Cal only nights earlier, the Oregon Ducks looked toward their matchup against the Stanford Cardinal as the perfect opportunity to wash the sour taste from their mouth after surrendering a 16-point lead in the first half against the Golden Bears. Though the Ducks' encouraging start Saturday afternoon was similar to the way they came out of the shoot against Cal, their finish drew many unfortunate parallels, as well. Before 12,364 in attendance at Matt Knight Arena for Oregon's Senior Day, the Ducks stumbled and sputtered their way to an ugly 88-71 defeat. Led by Stanford forward Josh Owens' career high 31 points and 11 rebounds, the Cardinal dominated the Ducks in virtually every facet of the game, shooting a feverish 59.3 percent from the field while outrebounding Oregon 36 to 21 on the glass.
"That's not how Senior Day is supposed to go," lamented Oregon head coach Dana Altman after the game. "Defensively this weekend, we didn't play. We didn't dictate anything defensively...we got outrebounded in both games and really outrebounded today."
"It didn't look like we had the same energy that we've played with and we looked a step slow on everything."
With the Ducks' depth stripped with a short bench all season, many pondered whether or not fatigue was beginning to set in for a team that has prided itself on energy and hustle despite their lack of proven players. Though he wouldn't begin to make excuses for his team's woeful play recently, Altman admitted that his squad and been toeing a razor-thin edge all season.
"The guys have been playing on a fine-line all year," said Altman. "They've had to play extremely hard to put themselves in position to win games."
After barely registering a blip on the radar in the Ducks and Cardinal's first meeting of the season in Palo Alto, Owens responded to his four point outing on January 27, with a career performance that dropped Oregon to seventh in the conference standings.
"He was a beast in the middle," stated Oregon freshman guard Johnathan Loyd who finished with 11 points in 16 minutes of action. "He rebounded a lot, got a double-double and was playing harder than we were; their whole team was playing harder than we were."
Heading in to a critical weekend on the road against the Arizona schools, the Ducks are now playing for seeding going in to the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles starting March 9. With NCAA and NIT berths all but gone by the wayside, the goal now is to avoid from having to play on the opening day of the tournament so as not to play potentially four games in four days. For Altman, it's all about getting his team back to basics.
"It's not like we are beating people with our size," said Altman. "We are beating people with our energy and fight. We have to go back and do a better job next week."
The Ducks take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe next Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 pm Pacific. No live television broadcast is scheduled.
Odds and Ends:
The Ducks used a different starting lineup tonight than they have in previous games. Altman and his coaching staff started Malcolm Armstead in place of Johnathan Loyd, who has been a regular in the starting five with Garrett Sim, E.J. Singler, Joevan Catron, and Tyrone Nared. However, the change wasn't intentional. According to Altman, assistant coach Josh Jamieson made a mistake when handing the sideline official the Ducks' starting lineup this afternoon. Instead of taking a technical, Altman went forward with the alteration.
Malcolm Armstead scored a season-high 22 points marking the just the second time this season he led the team in scoring (ninth time of career). He became only the third Oregon player to tally 20 or more points in a game this season (Catron seven times, Strowbridge once). Armstead finished just one point off his career high of 23 points, which he reached last season against Idaho State (Dec. 22, 2009)...Armstead, who recorded five steals against Stanford, has 123 career steals in 59 games which moved him into seventh place all time at UO (by Maarty Leunen who had 121 steals in 127 career games)...Jay-R Strowbridge (16 points) scored in double figures for the seventh time in the last 10 games (11th time overall this season)...Johnathan Loyd (11 points) scored in double figures for the first time since UO's Jan. 13 home win over USC (12 points). It was the fifth time this season that Loyd scored 10 or more points...The Ducks' 36.7 percent shooting percentage was their lowest since the Jan. 1 home loss to Arizona State (.321, 17-of-53)...Oregon's 11 steals were its most in Pac-10 play and highest figure since finishing with 17 against Willamette on Dec. 11, 2010.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
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