Portland, OR – There was an electric atmosphere in Portland on Saturday night as the undefeated Oregon Ducks went on a 30-14 run in the final ten minutes to top Illinois 71-64. Illinois had taken a nine-point lead on a steal and dunk by Joseph Bertrand prior to the Ducks going on their run. Oregon was lead by 14 points each by Mike Moser and Joseph Young. Moser also pulled down nine rebounds.
The difference in the game was the play of Oregon’s 5’8″ senior guard Johnathan Loyd. Loyd, playing at a very high level this far this season, scored 11 points to go along with seven assists and only one turnover. Loyd made all the key plays at the close of the game. He assisted on a three-pointer by Moser with 2:37 left to give Oregon a 63-59 lead. He then hit a key jumper from just inside the three-point circle, with 30 seconds left to put the Ducks up 67-62. Loyd then hit two three throws and followed that up with a steal and lay-in to close out the game.
Loyd’s play improved at the end of last season when he was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Pac-12 Tournament. He’s continued at that level of play this season in the absence of former starting point guard Dominic Artis who was suspended for the first nine games due to an NCAA violation. Artis returns for tonight’s game against UC-Irvine. He’ll get his minutes but will likely not be starting anytime soon.
Loyd is averaging 11.1 ppg, shooting 53.8 per cent from the field, 45.5 per cent on three-pointers and 85 per cent from the foul line. He has a 3.3:1 assist to turnover ratio and is firmly in control of the Oregon offense. He’s getting everyone involved in the offense and has shown more confidence in his outside shot. His shot was coming out somewhat flat in his first few attempts against the Illini put none were bad shots. Loyd is a true director of the Oregon offense and will likely continue in that role for the remainder of his final year in Eugene.