After a heartbreaker loss at Colorado on Saturday night -- in which a bad call cost the Ducks the game -- the Oregon men's basketball team looks to bounce back with a pair of home games against the Washington schools this week.
The Ducks split last time they played the Huskies and Cougars, having opened the Pac-12 Conference season with a resounding 92-75 victory over Washington State in Spokane. Then they fell, 76-60, at Washington a couple of days later.
Now the Ducks are at home, where they've played particularly well this season, and they face the Huskies first, on Thursday at 8 p.m. Pacific Time. A win over UW would be huge for the Ducks, because it would atone for that earlier loss, yes, but also because it would mean knocking off the conference leader.
Washington leads the Pac-12 standings at 9-2, with California and Colorado tied for second at 8-3. Oregon is another game back, tied with Arizona at 7-4.
Further motivation for the Ducks comes in the form of getting past that rough game last Saturday at Colorado. With the score tied at 71, forward E.J. Singler made what looked like a clean block of an off-balance shot by the Buffaloes' Nate Tomlinson. But Singler was called for a foul, and it was the wrong call. I know referees are human, and they make mistakes, but this one cost the Ducks the game.
Tomlinson sank the first free throw to give the Buffaloes the one-point lead, then deliberately missed the second so the Ducks wouldn't have a shot at the end. It was a tough way for Oregon to lose, particularly on the road after a 78-68 victory at Utah earlier in the week.
The Ducks were very careful in their comments after the game, refusing to blame the refs, even though the call was absurd.
"The point guard made a good play, got to the rim, attacked, ref made the call," Singler told reporters after the game. "I felt like I did the right thing, and the kid made a good play."
Singler knew the block was clean, but he wouldn't say as much after the game. So the Ducks headed back to Eugene with a tough loss, and now they've got an even tougher opponent waiting for them on Thursday night.