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Oregon loses fifth straight, to Washington, after 13-0 start

Jan 24, 2014, 1:44 AM EDT

altman AP

Dana Altman tried to make a change.

He shuffled his starting lineup, bring Jonathan Loyd off the bench and starting Dominic Artis. He mixed up his defenses, using more 2-3 zone and even using a box-and-one on a couple of possessions. He tried to snap Oregon out of their funk.

And it didn’t work.

The Ducks lost their fifth straight game, and if it wasn’t for a fluky overtime win at Utah, they would be sitting at 0-6 in the Pac-12 after starting out the season 13-0.

It’s not like we don’t know what the issue is, either. Oregon is as talented and athletic and entertaining as anyone in the country, they just don’t defend. Can’t defend. They are now 140th nationally in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, a rank that has dropped more than 40 spots in three weeks. On Thursday, they allowed Washington to shoot 57.8% from the floor, 58.3% from three and score 80 points on what was a surprisingly low 67 possessions.

It’s not like Altman doesn’t know how to coach a team defensively. Last year’s club was 10th in the nation in defensive efficiency. But last year’s team rebounded the ball, forced turnovers and, most importantly, limited penetration on the perimeter.

This year’s group is little more than a hot mess.

And they’re running out of time to turn this thing around. The Ducks may only have four more NCAA tournament teams on their schedule — Arizona twice and UCLA twice. With all of their good non-conference wins hitting the skids of late — Georgetown, Illinois, BYU, Ole Miss — this is looking more and more like a team we drastically overrated against what we now know to be a thoroughly mediocre non-conference schedule.

If that’s not the case, I’ll gladly be proven wrong.

But if they can’t defend anyone else, can I expect them to defend themselves?