For the first couple of months of the season, Oregon looked like the best team in the Pac-12 and, potentially, one of the best teams in the country.
They were 17-2 on the season and held wins over both UCLA and Arizona in league play while also knocking off UNLV in Vegas.
But then starting point guard Dominic Artis injured his foot, which has kept him out of the lineup for the past month. The Ducks have fallen back to earth without Artis, losing three in a row and four out of seven at one point. They didn’t come completely unglued, thanks in large to the rapid improvement that Johnathan Loyd showed as Artis’ replacement at the point.
Loyd wasn’t blowing anyone away, but he turned into a serviceable point guard that allowed Oregon to hold on to a share of the Pac-12 lead without Artis in the lineup.
The good news? Artis should be returning for the Ducks this week:
Point guard Dominic Artis will play limited minutes against the OSU Beavers on Thursday night at Matt Arena. He has been sidelined with an undisclosed foot injury for over a month and Coach Altman said today that he could’ve returned earlier but they want to take it slow with him. They’ll have him on a minute limit and may reduce it based on how he feels.
Jonathon Loyd will start. Oregon’s goal is to have Artis back at full strength when conference tourney play starts in 2 1/2 weeks in Las Vegas.
Artis is one of Oregon’s best perimeter shooters and their most dynamic creator off the bounce. For a team that has issues scoring — not to mention a pesky turnover problem — getting Artis back, even if it is on a limited basis at first, is big news.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.