Real journalism is weird.
Twelve days ago I was erroneously linking head coach Mark Helfrich to human trafficking and hedgehog discrimination. I work on a 7 year old laptop with a cracked screen and no battery. I don't have Adam Jude's dashing good looks and masculine musk (I'm assuming on the second one, though I'm probably right). And yet I find myself on press row for Oregon's tilt with Cal, trying to act as professional as possible. It goes against my nature as a human. I work with kids because my natural inclination is to act like a goof at all times. And now I'm wearing a sweater, not cheering for dunks. Ugh.
Oh right, a game happened. Let's take a look.
The first half was a study in dueling ineptitudes; whether it was good defense, bad offense, or a little of both, there was no real offensive rhythm to be had, even on fast breaks. Oregon only attempted 19 first half field goals, in part because eleven turnovers and a pair of offensive fouls left numerous possessions shotless. On most nights, those numbers combined with Cal's six offensive rebounds would make for a rough go of things. But Oregon found themselves leading 27-24 at the break, due in large part to Cal's willingness to play just as poorly; the Golden Bears managed only six fast break points off those eleven turnovers, and shot 31.3% from the field, including 2-10 from three-point range. The one part of the game the Ducks did execute well was their aggressiveness in drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line, going 9-13 from the line in the first half, while Cal attempted only two free throws.
The big development was Jon Loyd, in a starting role due to Dominic Artis' foot injury, went down hard on a foul and came up grabbing his right wrist. He went immediately to the locker room, and came out for the second half with his thumb wrapped, and obviously hurting.
The second half looked mostly like the first, with turnovers and sloppy play on both sides. Oregon maintained its three-point lead until a 6-0 Cal run put the Bears up 42-39. Richard Solomon was the early catalyst for Cal in the second half, with seven points and three rebounds in the first nine minutes. But the Ducks answered back with an 11-0 run of their own, switching to zone on defense and squelching Cal's offensive momentum. But Cal would battle back, chipping away at the lead until a Damyean Dotson slip led to an Allen Crabbe layup, tying the game at 54 with 2:20 to play. After an EJ Singler miss, Justin Cobbs hit a mid-range jumper to give Cal their first lead since the 9:15 mark. After trading misses, Oregon had the ball back with 16.5 to go. EJ SIngler missed a great look from three-point range, and Tony Woods' putback attempt was stuffed mid-shot by David Kravish. Jump ball, possession Cal. Two Justin Cobbs free throws finished the scoring, and Cal fans deemed the Ducks worthy of a court-rush.
No basketball team that commits 22 turnovers, allows 12 offensive rebounds, and goes 2-12 from behind the arc is going to have much success, and it was determination and great defense that even kept Oregon in it until the end. The loss drops the Ducks to 7-2 in Pac-12 play, and will have squandered their two-game conference lead, provided Arizona or Arizona State win tonight.
The next step for Oregon is health; in addition to Artis and Loyd, EJ Singler tweaked his ankle midway through the second half and didn't make a shot afterwards, including the potential game-winning three. Arsalan Kazemi also went down hard trying to draw a charge, and appeared to hit his head on the court.
The Bay Area trip has been notoriously difficult for Oregon, and acting like a fully-functioning adult has been notoriously difficult for me. Today proved nothing to the contrary. So Oregon will get the hell out of town and attempt to regroup, while I will get the hell back to my apartment, crack a beer and put on some sweatpants. Yeesh, the real world is scary, and full of derp.