The No. 23 Ducks improved to 3-3 without Artis in the lineup after a 65-52 win against Washington on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1 first-year guard was averaging 10.2 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per game, leading Oregon to a 17-2 start. Oregon is averaging over 17 turnovers a game over this seven-game stretch without Artis running the show, coughing the ball up 20 or more times in three of those games.
Oregon still sits atop the Pac-12 Conference, but not by much. UCLA and Arizona are tied for second place and trail by only a game. Both UCLA and Arizona provided a reason why the Ducks shouldn’t overlook the last place Cougars in Saturday’s matchup in Pullman. The Bruins and Wildcats both lost on the road Thursday night — UCLA lost by 13 to Cal and Colorado got revenge against Arizona.
“Any time anybody goes on the road, a lot of different things can happen,” Altman said on Friday. “You got to get focused and get ready — just like we have to be for Washington Sate on Saturday.”
Oregon has won two straight since dropping three straight, but is barely holding on to the conference’s top spot. Artis returning to the lineup can’t come soon enough.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.