(PHOTO) Oregon's Michael Dunigan, center, battles for position underneath against Arizona's Jamelle Horne, left, and Kyryl Natyazhko, right, during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game Saturday Jan. 16, 2010, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Lately, there appears to be no explanation for their poor play. Oregon failed to protect home court for a third time Saturday afternoon, allowing the Wildcats to shoot 51.2 percent from the floor while only managing 33.3 percent from the field themselves. Despite having three players in double figures, Oregon's effort on defense proved to be their Achilles' heel, as guards Nic Wise and Kyle Fogg scored 19 points a piece and center Derrick Williams poured in a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. With confidence circling the proverbial drain, the listless Ducks are doing some serious soul-searching.
"I'd say we lost our swag right now," said Oregon center Michael Dunigan,
"It seems like ever since we got back from off the road, it seems it just went downhill for us right now. We just have to come back and figure out what we're losing and what we've lost and just get it back together before we go back out on the road."
Oregon's inability to make open shots and come up with key stops doomed them this afternoon. The Ducks tied the game twice despite trailing by wide margins throughout the game. For the second game in a row, LeKendric Longmire proved to be a key component to igniting spurts of energy for a team who appears to be leaderless.
"I know that we're a better team than last year, so it doesn't feel like last year," said Longmire, "but some of these losses I'd say feel like last year."
"Guys know what the problem is. It's defense. I don't understand how you'd just let your man continue to score on you. That's a pride issue for me. Of course your man is going to score some baskets, but you're not going to come down the floor every time and let your man score. I can't fathom why someone would do that."
Longmire's 18 points led the Ducks, who also received 16 points and 14 points from Malcolm Armstead and Michael Dunigan, respectively. Oregon coach Ernie Kent lauded Longmire's play, as it appears the Pascagoula, Miss. native is the only player playing with any sense of urgency.
"I'm really, really proud of him," said Kent of Longmire, "He's going through some things that he has to go through (coming off the bench), but he's come back these last seven or eight days in practice and the last two ball games -- I've never seen a guy play so hard he gets cramps because playing so hard -- and he really, really has battled. We'll just continue to work with him and hang in there with him. He's one of those guys who's become a leader with just his effort."
Right now, it appears there's no real prescription for reversing the woes that have befallen the Oregon basketball team. With a critical Bay Area road trip looming next week, renewed focus along with a re-dedication to defense seem to be the most logical solutions for righting the ship.
"Hard, hard work come Monday and Tuesday," said Longmire of what the Ducks need to do between now and their game vs. California on Thursday,
"We gotta work and challenge each other. We've gotta have high intensity at practice, hold each other accountable when other guys are messing up, and some players can't be scared to jump on other players when they're not doing the job they're supposed to. I feel like I'm going to take that responsibility in making sure that I'm one of those guys that will get on somebody when they're not making the right rotation or continuing to get blown by up top, on the wing, or wherever."
Tip-off for the Ducks game at California is set for 7:30 pm.
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