Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker) is a national columnist for Rush The Court.
The most painful moment of Oregon’s four-game losing streak was prescient. Trailing Stanford 82-80 with just four seconds left earlier this month, the Ducks’ Dominic Artis grabbed a rebound from a missed free throw and streaked down the garishly painted Matthew Knight Arena court. Driving left, Artis leaned back to his right and attempted a finger-roll layup, but it bounced off the rim as time expired, and the Ducks fell by two points, their two-game hiccup turning into a four-game problem. After an undefeated 13-0 start to its season and attaining a top-10 ranking in the Associated Press poll, Oregon has had the wheels fall right off its proverbial cart, plummeting from national view in the span of about two weeks. Much of the blame has been directed at the Ducks’ interior defense, but another factor plays into their poor Pac-12 play: the return of Artis, the sophomore point guard who missed the first nine games of the season for selling team apparel online.
The Oakland, California, native, had a strong start to his freshman campaign last season, tallying an offensive rating above 120 in seven of the 19 games he started and played before missing a month of the season with a foot injury. But since that injury, Artis’ offense has been missing in action. He only had one game (out of nine) in the rest of 2013 in which he played more than half of the minutes with offensive ratings above average, and this season has been no better, with only three above-average performances out of eight games played (including just one in Oregon’s four consecutive losses). Put more succinctly: Artis has had a total of three games in which he scored in double-figures in 17 games since returning from injury last season; he had 14 in the 19 prior to getting hurt.