Splitting two contests between perennial tournament teams, beating UNLV on Friday and losing to Cincinnati on Saturday, Oregon (5-1) heads into this weekend's games with a growing understanding of just how good they can be.
"We know that we can play with them [NCAA tournament teams]," point guard Johnathan Loyd said Wednesday. "It's not like we're far away."
"It was a good weekend for us to get a better feeling for where we are at," head coach Dana Altman said.
The Ducks win over UNLV was the program's first road victory versus a ranked opponent since they beat Washington in Altman's first year as coach.
Altman likened the tournament atmosphere to a Pac-12 conference weekend.
"That was like going to Washington or Arizona. For our first road game, I thought our guys handled it pretty well," he said.
What looms ahead for Oregon, however, is a far cry from what they'll face come January. Over the next 17 days they'll play four games in the friendly confines of Matthew Knight Arena versus opponents who present just a 9-12 combined record.
Despite the weakened level of competition, Altman believes there is plenty to be accomplished in that time. Namely, he hopes center Tony Woods will stay out of foul trouble and be the defensive presence that he'd been in the first four games.
In the weekend pair, Woods played a combined 16 minutes, fouling out of both games, and blocked just one shot.
Woods was out of position often over the weekend, and was playing "up and down" to often, Altman said.
"He enables us to get out on the perimeter more, because we feel like we have someone back there to protect us a little bit," Altman said.
Without Woods presence down low, UNLV and Cincinnati made 19 three-point shots in two games.
"We just need him more than that." Altman said. "He's developed into a good player for us…"
With Woods sidelined with foul trouble, Arsalan Kazemi and freshman Ben Carter received more action than in the first four games. Carter, in particular, was a revelation, playing big minutes in big situations.
"They [the freshmen] came and they performed in a hostile environment. It was good confidence for everybody," Loyd said.
It was Damyean Dotson who came up the biggest in the biggest of situations, however, scoring eight of the team's final ten points in Friday's win over UNLV. Dotson finished with a career-best 19 points and is the team's leading scorer through six games.
"He grew up that day. We say he's no longer a freshmen after that, because he carried us down the stretch," Loyd said.
Oregon will look to get similar output from the freshmen in Thursday's matchup with Texas-San Antonio. The Roadrunners are 3-2, coming off a 81-62 loss to BYU.
The Ducks and Roadrunners tipoff at 7 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network with Kevin Calabro and former Oregon coach Ernie Kent on the call.