Oregon St.-Oregon Preview
Oregon is about to get a major boost for the stretch run.
The No. 24 Ducks expect Dominic Artis to see his first action in more than a month Thursday night in their home finale against archrival Oregon State.
Artis has been out since Jan. 23 with a left foot injury, but the freshman point guard could come off the bench Thursday after starting the first 19 games for Oregon (22-6, 11-4 Pac-12).
"I hope that he can give us some minutes against Oregon State," coach Dana Altman said. "I am not 100 percent sure of that. But he has done some individual work, he did dry work with the team (Monday) so my goal is to give him some minutes against Oregon State, I don't think it will be any extensive time."
Artis had 72 assists to lead the Ducks before his injury and was a 35.1 percent shooter on 3-pointers, developing into the floor leader for one of the nation's bigger surprise teams. Oregon, picked in the preseason to finish seventh in the Pac-12, opened 17-2 with Artis playing and has gone 5-4 without him.
"D.A. had quickly become a focal point of our team and a big leader for us," Altman said. "It's been difficult without him just for a lot of the qualities he brings."
Johnathan Loyd will remain Oregon's starting point guard for now. The junior is coming off his best performance of the season with 15 points and nine assists in a 77-66 win over Stanford on Saturday.
Oregon controls its own destiny to earn at least a share of the Pac-12 title. The Ducks are favored to repeat the success they had at Oregon State (13-15, 3-12) on Jan. 6, winning 79-66 as freshman Damyean Dotson scored a season-high 21.
The lowly Beavers will look to spoil the Ducks' senior night. Oregon State had dropped 16 straight visits to Eugene before winning two of its last three, including a 76-71 victory last season.
Neither team looks the same now, each having lost its top scorer from 2011-12.
"You use that to point out that you have won there, and you're capable of winning there, but the teams are completely different now," Beavers coach Craig Robinson said.
The Ducks will honor a senior class led by four-year starter E.J. Singler, averaging a team-high 11.6 points. Singler has averaged 14.6 in his last five meetings with Oregon State.
"When you have three seniors like they have and one of them is E.J. Singler, that's a nice foundation to build upon and it allows your young players like a Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis to be able to sort of get their legs under them by the time the conference season starts," Robinson said.
Another Oregon senior, reserve Carlos Emory, has emerged to average 17.3 points in his last three games. Senior starter Arsalan Kazemi has stepped up with 11.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in the last five.
The Beavers are led by one of the Pac-12's top scorers in Roberto Nelson, averaging 17.3 points and two shy of reaching 1,000. Teammate Devon Collier has 1,042 points and it's possible that Joe Burton (986) and even Ahmad Starks (973) can reach 1,000 against the Ducks.
Nelson and Starks combined for 40 points the last time these teams met. Starks shoots 41.3 percent on 3s and Nelson 39.8.
Oregon State, which has dropped three straight, has lost 34 of 35 against Top 25 foes and hasn't beaten one on the road since 1985.