Forgive Duck fans if they had a moment of consternation upon hearing the news early Saturday that true freshman point guard Dominic Artis would be sidelined indefinitely with an undisclosed foot injury. The Oakland (Calif.) native had been a steadying influence in the lineup for Oregon head coach Dana Altman and a player the Ducks had begun to rely upon as a scorer since Pac-12 play began.
Loyd finished with nine points, five assists, and five turnovers in place of Dominic Artis in Oregon's 81-76 win over Washington.
Yet, rare is the season that a team avoids adversity completely and against Washington at Matthew Knight Arena Saturday afternoon, the Ducks were forced to face life without Artis for the foreseeable future head on. Luckily for Altman and his team, depth at the point guard doesn't appear to be a pressing issue. Behind a solid tandem performance by seasoned veteran Johnathan Loyd and precocious true freshman Willie Moore, Oregon was able to extend their home winning streak to 20, defeating the Huskies 81-76, moving to 18-2 overall and 7-0 in conference play.
"They did great," said Oregon senior forward E.J. Singler of Loyd and Moore after leading the Ducks with 18 points. "I thought Johnny really gave us a lot of energy in the first four minutes of the game where we haven't been playing well. I've always said that we don't really drop off when Johnny comes in. He's been there before, he's got a lot of experience, and I just have a whole lot of confidence in him."
In place of Artis, Loyd logged 31 minutes, scoring nine points and dishing out five assists to go with five turnovers. When fatigue set in for Loyd, Moore entered the game, scoring nine points of his own in nine minutes of action. Despite enduring some struggles taking care of the ball and getting the Ducks in their offensive sets, Moore impressed at least one of his fellow teammates with his play versus the Huskies.
"Obviously we're sad not having D.A. out there, but we have Johnny and Willie [at point guard]," said Oregon senior forward Arsalan Kazemi, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. "Willie stepped it up today and he played good...The turnovers weren't about one person turning the ball over; we were turning the ball over as a team."
Oregon's 23 turnovers were a major detractor for Altman following the game. Though he was pleased with his team's effort, Altman felt that the game could have perhaps been different had the Ducks taken better care of the ball. Did the lack of ball security have anything to do with Artis' absence? According to Altman, it didn't.
"Willie struggled at times and had a little bit of trouble getting us in to [our offense], but D.A. had nothing to do with E.J. turning the ball over seven times and getting sped up sometimes," said Altman. "We just need to get Willie some more reps. This happened pretty quick for him, but he'll make the adjustment. You saw some of his potential and some of his steals, but he hasn't had much time [to get acclimated]."
Of Artis' status moving forward, Altman didn't reveal how long he anticipated his point guard to be sidelined nor did he explain exactly how Artis' injury occurred.
"He doesn't feel like he can go on it," said Altman of Artis. "We'll just wait and see how long it takes."