Payton Pritchard knows what his shooting percentages say.
“People want to say I’m in a little bit of a slump shooting,” the UO junior guard acknowledged Tuesday.
Pritchard tries to avoid using those words.
“As a player, you don’t want to say you are in a slump,” he added. “I know I haven’t been playing as well as I need to be, but you have got to move on.”
Pritchard is shooting .377 from the field after finishing at .447 as a sophomore. He ranked ninth in the conference in 3-point shooting last year at .413, but is at .316 as Oregon (13-9, 4-5) prepares to host California (5-16, 0-9) at 6:30 p.m. in a Pac-12 men's basketball game at Matthew Knight Arena.
In nine conference games, Pritchard is shooting a percentage of .318, including .283 on three-pointers.
“I’ve been in my head a lot,” Pritchard said. “Shooting hasn’t been where it should be or where it has been in the past.”
Pritchard’s 117 3-point attempts equals 57.1 percent of his total attempts, up from last year when 51.4 percent of his shots came from behind the arc.
“I think I have settled a lot this year,” he said. “Settling for 3s and that has never been my game. Get guys open, get to the rim, mid-range, all different types of shots and then the 3s will come.”
Pritchard has not made more shots than he missed from the field in any of the past 18 games. He is coming off one of his better shooting nights when he was 3-for-8, including 2-of-6 on 3-pointers, in Saturday’s 73-51 loss at Colorado.
“Coach tells me to keep shooting,” Pritchard said. “Keep a steady grind and hopefully it gets better from here.”
UO coach Dana Altman said the key for Pritchard has been to take “the right shots."
“I think he’s gotten some open looks he doesn’t take and then he knows he should be more aggressive and takes some,” he said. “He’s pressing, no doubt. He’s a very conscientious young man who wants to play well. He knows he’s not shooting it good and that weighs on him.”
Oregon ranks 10th in the Pac-12 with a .443 shooting percentage that has dropped to .422 in conference play. Pritchard, Louis King, Victor Bailey and Ehab Amin are all shooting below 42 percent on the season.
“Guys are conscientious about trying to shoot and they are just struggling,” Altman said. “I told them there is no way out of it except to focus on other parts of your game and let that part come back to you because you spend too much time working on it. It will come back, but it won’t if you just press and think ‘I’ve got to get this shot down, got to aim it, get it in.' I have never seen that work over a lot of years of coaching. You have got to focus on other parts of the game and eventually your shooting will come back.”
Pritchard has made 60 of 66 free throws to lead the Pac-12 with a .909 percentage that ranks ninth nationally.
“I need to get to the line more,” he said.
Pritchard ranks fifth in the conference with 1.6 steals per game and sixth at 4.5 assists.
“I haven’t been the player I know I can be and that this team needs,” Pritchard said. “I’m going to put in the work to try and turn that around.”
Oregon sits eighth in the Pac-12 as it hosts the Bears before Stanford arrives on Sunday. The Ducks are two games out of second place where USC, Oregon State and Arizona State are all tied.
“I think almost every game now is a must-win,” Pritchard said. “We have to prepare like it is. Our margin for error is very low.”