Oregon is without its floor leader, and could be out of the Top 25 next week.
The No. 19 Ducks look to avoid a fourth straight defeat Saturday night when they host a Utah team they swept last season.Oregon (18-5, 7-3) missed a chance to move into a tie with No. 7 Arizona atop the Pac-12 with Thursday's 48-47 loss to Colorado. The Ducks' 20-game home win streak -- the third-longest in school history -- ended as they conceded the game's final eight points.This skid has coincided with the absence of starting point guard Dominic Artis, who missed his fourth straight game with an undisclosed foot injury. Artis, who is not expected to play Saturday, averages 10.2 points and a team-high 3.8 assists."Dominic spreads the floor," coach Dana Altman said. "The floor has shrunk and it's been hard to drive to the hoop."Johnathan Loyd has started in this stretch without Artis. Loyd turned in his second scoreless effort in three games Thursday as he missed all seven shots and had only one assist.The Ducks, tied for second with Arizona State and UCLA, are on their longest slide since a four-game losing streak Feb. 24-March 5, 2011."Our guys have worked awfully hard, and in the past week we've given a lot back. Five o'clock on Saturday, we'll have to turn it around," Altman said.Oregon won both meetings with Utah (10-12, 2-8) last season. The Runnin' Utes no doubt have unpleasant memories of last year's visit to Eugene in which they fell behind 34-2 and suffered the worst loss in school history, 94-48.The Ducks' Devoe Joseph averaged 20.5 points in the 2011-12 season series, but he has graduated.The Runnin' Utes are solid defensively, limiting opponents to 38.4 percent shooting to lead the Pac-12.It's the other end of the floor where Utah has struggled to average 65.0 points, turning in its second-worst shooting performance of the season Wednesday at 35.7 percent in an 82-64 defeat at Oregon State.Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak's lineup changes against the Beavers did not work as he used freshman Jordan Loveridge and Glen Dean off the bench for the first time. Loveridge made 3 of 11 shots for seven points in 30 minutes after missing one game with a sore knee while Dean logged 16 minutes after averaging 30.5 over his previous four contests.Freshman Brandon Taylor scored a season-high 21 points and handed out six assists in his second straight start."We made a lot of mistakes, and coach told us that a lot of our pain was self-inflicted tonight," Taylor told the Utes' official website. "We have to stop taking punches. We have to learn how to stay aggressive and to play with heart. That didn't happen tonight, and we're going to keep struggling if we don't learn how to fight back."Neither team has a player averaging more than 12.1 points, with Loyola Marymount transfer Jarred DuBois at that mark for the Utes. Damyean Dotson averages a team-high 11.1 for Oregon, which has five players averaging at least 10.