Opponent: Cal Bears
Tip: 6:05 PM
The winningest player in Oregon men's basketball history has never beaten Cal.
Neither has his coach. Or any of his team mates for that matter.
EJ Singler won his 82nd game as a Duck on Saturday, but with Cal holding ten consecutive victories over his team, tonight is his last chance to set the series straight (in conference play).
Junior Johnathan Loyd may have a little more time, but enough is enough:
“For me, I need this game. We just gave the game away down there. Me and EJ talk about it all the time. It's a must have. We can't let anybody get two games on us in one season.”
In the five games Dana Altman has coached against the Bears, all have been disappointments.
“I don't like to go back previous years...but it's a big game and we have to do a better job than we did,” he said Tuesday.
The last time the Ducks saw a Cal victory was on the road in February of 2008.
Yes, Cal is a good team, coming off three straight wins with victories over UCLA and USC at home. They sit two games behind first-place Oregon and in a tie for fourth place in the league.
But they're not that good. What gives?
"It comes down to too many turnovers down the stretch," said Loyd. "We had too many in the game against them last year too ."
Is it becoming somewhat of a mind game?
“I think we sometimes get in attack mode all game, then we settle down and become passive. Then we get frantic at the shot clock," Loyd explained.
They will need to find a balance between aggression and control if they want to get it done at Matt Knight, especially with the Pac-12's best scoring duo on the court in Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. Crabbe leads the Pac-12 and is tied for 16th nationally at 19.8 points per game. Cobbs ranks 11th in the conference at 14.8 points per contest. The pair has combined to score 863 of Cal's 1,721 points (50.1 percent).
“We were giving them open shots last time. We need to buckle down on that," said Loyd.
A big part of the Ducks' success will come down to Damyean Dotson's match up with Allen Crabbe, who has been named the Pac-12 Player of the Week two weeks in a row. Since the Utah game, Dots has returned to form, finding a way to come out of the gate swinging, thanks in part to coaches emphasizing good plays on film from his early season performance.
"It's different to prepare because you know what type of player he is and how you have to chase him off the screen. You have to have a different mindset. You know you have to stop him because he's one of the best scorers out there," said the freshman guard.
The impact Crabbe can have on his Ducks isn't lost on Dana Altman, “Anytime you have a guy that's that capable, he can change the game. He's done that on us a couple times...just changed the game with his three-point shooting. His mid-game has improved. He puts it down a lot better."
Tip is 6:05 PM at Matt Knight Arena.
Feb 2, 2013: Justin Cobbs made an 18-foot jumper with 1:35 remaining then added a pair of free throws and California hung on to beat No. 10 Oregon 58-54