Oregon coach Dana Altman saw no need to put a happy face on his team’s final game before Christmas.

“There’s no way to sugar-coat it,” he said Dec. 21 after a 77-72 loss at home to Utah Valley. “First half, we just buried ourselves.”

The Ducks will try to get off to a quicker start and return to the win column on Saturday when they host Pac-12 Conference and in-state rival Oregon State in Eugene.

Both teams are 7-6 overall and 1-1 in the conference, but it’s the Beavers who come in with momentum after three straight wins to finish their nonconference schedule. Meanwhile, Oregon is looking to find its rhythm after working around injuries that colored its efforts throughout November and December.

It sure wasn’t in place against Utah Valley, which rolled to a 41-24 halftime lead that gave it the cushion it needed to survive the Ducks’ second-half push. But 3-of-19 shooting from 3-point range for the night ultimately doomed their rally.

Will Richardson paces Oregon with 15.1 points and 6.1 assists per game, while N’Faly Dante chips in 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. Quincy Guerrier adds 10.9 ppg.

Meanwhile, Oregon State comes in with recent success on its ledger, including a 57-52 win in its final game before Christmas on Dec. 21 against Denver. The Beavers played that one without two rotation players in center Choi Marial (ankle) and guard Christian Wright (illness), but got 12 points from Glenn Taylor, Jr.

Jordan Pope leads the attack with 13.5 ppg and Taylor adds 12.2, but offense has been a problem. Oregon State is hitting just 44 percent from the field and averaging only 65.3 points per contest.

“The offense is going to come,” coach Wayne Tinkle said. “We know what the solution is: Ball movement, player movement. When we hold it, when we go 1-on-1, when we let the defense load, we get in trouble.”

The Ducks won all three matchups last year, including an 86-72 win on March 9 in the Pac-12 tournament.

–Field Level Media