Short-handed No. 21 Oregon returns to face Oregon State

NCAA Men's Basketball

Having a bye week in college football before facing an archrival wouldn’t be considered unusual.

But having two weeks off during basketball season heading into the big game?

No. 21 Oregon is scheduled to return to the court Saturday night when it plays host to Oregon State in Eugene. The Ducks (9-2, 4-1 Pac-12) had their past three games postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Ducks paused all team activities last week and had home games against Arizona and Arizona State postponed. They were scheduled to play host to UCLA on Tuesday, but that game was rescheduled for Feb. 1 in Los Angeles.

The Ducks, who have won 28 consecutive home games, the fourth-longest such streak in the country, only returned to practice Monday.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is always our top priority, and we are grateful to our medical team for guiding us through this process,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said in a news release from the school.

Even so, the Ducks will be short-handed against the Beavers with two starters, Chris Duarte and LJ Figueroa, sidelined because of COVID-19 protocols. Duarte is the team’s top scorer at 18.4 points per game while Figueroa is fourth at 10.1 ppg.

“I told them players all over the country are going through this,” Altman said, according to the Oregonian. “It’s something that I know it’s hard to deal with in the present, but it’s just one game and hopefully they’ll be back next week.”

The Ducks last played Jan. 9 at Utah, rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit for a 79-73 victory as Duarte scored 25 points.

The Beavers (7-5, 3-3) also got a break this month, with games at Utah and Colorado postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said, “I think our guys have done a really good job. I think the protocols were really good. We knew it was just an inevitability before we were impacted.”

The Beavers took a 98-64 loss in their first game back, at home against Arizona, but have rebounded to win their past two games.

They defeated Arizona State 80-79 on Jan. 16 on Warith Alatishe’s layup with 4.1 seconds remaining, then edged Southern California 58-56 Tuesday to snap the Trojans’ six-game winning streak.

Jarod Lucas and Ethan Thompson each scored 13 points against USC and senior Roman Silva added a career-high 12 on 6-for-7 shooting.

Silva had been out for more than three weeks due to COVID-19 test results and contact tracing protocols before returning in mid-January.

“Being out for so long it just makes you hungry to get back,” Silva said.

Oregon State held the Trojans scoreless in the final 2:19 and Rodrigue Andela made two free throws with 1:49 left to break the tie.

Tinkle said he was pleased by the Beavers’ recent defensive effort.

“There’s been games where it’s just been a layup line for the other team,” he said. “I know our guys were just disgusted with it, and I think the Arizona game was obviously the last time we were going to let that happen without putting up a fight.”

Oregon and Oregon State have played an NCAA-record 354 games, with the Beavers holding a 190-164 advantage.

–Field Level Media

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