Oregon had a halftime lead at Washington State, Stanford and Oregon State before losing all three of those road games by double digits.
Those lost leads in the second half against teams in the bottom half of the Pac-12's men's basketball standings have kept the 14th-ranked Ducks from pulling ahead in the conference race.
Oregon (20-6) is tied for first place in the Pac-12 with Colorado at 9-4 as it prepares to visit Arizona State and Arizona, who are tied for third at 8-4. First up is a trip to ASU (17-8) at 6 p.m. Thursday followed by a trip to Tucson on Saturday for a 6 p.m. game at No. 24 Arizona.
“I think we are ready to go swing away,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “A couple tough road games and we will see if we can make something happen.”
Oregon has dropped two straight road games to fall to 3-4 away from Matthew Knight Arena in conference play. The Ducks led Stanford by eight points before falling 70-60 on Feb. 1 and then watched a 32-28 halftime lead at Oregon State turn into a 63-53 loss.
“We were not tough enough to finish,” Altman said. “It will be important to get off to a good start and play well.”
Oregon has split its first three two-game road trips in conference play. The Ducks are spending their final week on the road in the regular season before returning home for the final three games.
“I think we have learned a lot about ourselves on the road,” senior guard Anthony Mathis said. “We realize how we need to toughen up and I think we can do that on this road trip. … Our communication on the road, we get pretty quiet as fans get loud. We need to get louder as fans get louder and I think we are starting to realize that.”
Thursday is one of the biggest home games for Arizona State since coach Bobby Hurley arrived five years ago. The Sun Devils have won five straight games to move into NCAA Tournament contention and a win over the Ducks would give their resume a strong boost.
Oregon defeated ASU 78-69 last month at Matthew Knight Arena. Alonzo Verge missed all five of his shots during 17 scoreless minutes at UO, but the 6-foot-3 junior-college transfer is averaging 20.2 points in his last five games for the Sun Devils.
“Both teams are different now, so it will be an interesting matchup,” Altman said, noting Will Richardson was still coming off the bench during the first meeting. “They are playing with a bounce in their step, they have won a couple tough road games and a couple at home. They are playing really well.”
Freshman center N’Faly Dante had five points and six rebounds against the Sun Devils, but has missed the past seven games with a knee injury and is questionable to return this weekend.