Oregon is in freefall; Ducks drop fourth straight

Eric Moreland and the Beavers held on at home against the hated Ducks. (USATSI)
Eric Moreland and the Beavers held on at home against the hated Ducks. (USATSI)

Iowa State is thanking Oregon right now, because the Ducks have usurped the Cyclones as the former top-10 team that's in freefall.

It's now four in a row in the L column for Dana Altman's talented, high-scoring team ... that was held 16 points below its season average on Sunday. It started 13-0 and is now 13-4 -- with an 1-4 record in the Pac-12 -- after losing 80-72 at 10-7 Oregon State. To those who've been tracking hoops all season long and saw flashes of what Oregon is capable of, this is pretty alarming.

How bad is it for Oregon? Well, the Ducks should consider themselves lucky, actually. Lucky? How? If not for a last-second dunk in overtime on the road against Utah, this team would be winless both in the Pac-12 and in 2014. Previous losses have come against California, Colorado and Stanford.

It's gotten so bad so fast for Oregon, this team's best wins are against 11-6 Georgetown, losers of three of its last four; 13-6 Illinois, losers of four straight; and 13-7 BYU, which does not have near the resume to warrant bubble attention going forward. The Ducks aren't looking like an NCAA tournament team. It's panic time in the sense that the Pac-12 title chase is now offically up in smoke, and the push to stay in the mix for an at-large bid gets tougher going forward.

Oregon didn't have one starter score in double figures Sunday. The Ducks shot 21.1 percent from 3 (4 for 19) and 37.9 percent from the field. It was something of a cruel twist of expectations for Altman's club, as it played better on defense than it had as of late, but the offense went dry. I mean, against your arch rival, on the road, maybe that's consolation in a lot of instances. But it can't be that when you're trying to stop the bleeding.

I won't fail to mention Oregon State and Craig Robinson getting a very nice win for that program. This OSU team has taken on miserable losses this season, so it's a nice Sunday for that team to get a win most didn't think it was capable of. Roberto Nelson, the team's best player, had 22. Eric Moreland added 15.

The next week presesnts two more road games for Oregon: at Washington on Thursday and at Washington State on Sunday. This team won 28 games last season, and as of two weeks ago looked to be on pace to do that again. Now it's a matter of putting together a complete game and retooling the offense to allow this team's talented assortment of guards to show how dangerous they can be. The talent is there. Teams struggle, but this specific dip is vexing.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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