For about three quarters of the game on Saturday night, it looked like Oregon Men’s basketball had turned some sort of a corner. But then, reality kicked in.
Visiting Baylor defeated Oregon 78-70 at Matthew Knight Arena, dropping the Ducks to 6-6, their worst record through the first 12 games since Dana Altman took over as head coach in 2010.
Already having been blown out on numerous occasions by their tougher opponents, Oregon had a chance to show it could play at the level expected of a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of last year’s NCAA Tournament as they hosted the top-ranked Bears.
Leading 39-35 at halftime, The Ducks continued a tight battle with Baylor through the first ten minutes of the second half, trading baskets and defensive stops as the lead seesawed.
But then the Bears erupted for a 17-2 run that gave them command of the game as Oregon committed four turnovers during the stretch. The Ducks were never able to get closer than six after that, and another opportunity had slipped through their fingers.
For a team that looked so powerful on paper heading into the season with a couple of veteran guards, a twin tower combination of five-star centers, and another great haul of top-tier transfers, Oregon has looked unorganized and sloppy to begin their 2021-22 campaign.
If there was any sort of moral victory to be gleaned from Saturday it was that Oregon was not destroyed the way it was against BYU and Houston, and that they competed for an entire game against the defending national champions.
Still, the reality is that Oregon has zero “resume wins”, which are wins that look impressive on a team’s NCAA Tournament resume heading into March. The Ducks host Pepperdine on Tuesday before heading into conference play for the remainder of the regular season. The Ducks are already 0-2 in Pac 12 play after falling to Arizona State and Stanford last week.
Time and again we’ve seen amazing surges to finish the season by Altman-coached Oregon teams, so obviously it’s too early to write the Ducks off in December.
Still, the performance of this team thus far is absolutely a cause for concern, and Oregon will be fighting an uphill battle heading into 2022.