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Loyd's status stays foggy for UCLA

(The Register-Guard) — Dana Altman has never coached a game at Oregon without Johnathan Loyd on the court and he hopes that streak continues tonight.

Oregon's senior point guard suffered a broken nose when he was hit by an elbow during a rebounding drill in practice on Tuesday.

"I don't know if he will be able to go," Altman said on Wednesday. "If we have one guy who can bounce back and play, it's Johnny Loyd. ... I'm saying that for 33 teams I've coached. He's in the top five guys who will be there if he can."

Loyd is being fitted for a mask in case he can play tonight when the Ducks (14-5, 2-5) host UCLA (16-4, 5-2) at 6 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.

"Everybody I have had over the years that broke their nose and had a mask, that's just a pain," Altman said. "Those things are hard to play with. You always have to adjust to that."

Oregon guard Jason Calliste wore a mask last year after he suffered a broken nose when he was hit with an elbow while playing for Detroit.

"It was a little uncomfortable at first; you have to get used to it," Calliste said. "It starts fogging up when you get sweaty and it starts sliding around. I had to wear a headband with it."

Calliste did not miss a game because of the injury.

"I'm expecting (Loyd) to play, to be honest," he said.

Loyd, who was Altman's first recruit at Oregon, has played in all 129 games in his career and has a chance to break the school record of 142 games played by E.J. Singler.

Loyd is having his best season, averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field and 39.4 on three-pointers. He started the first 17 games, but was replaced by Dominic Artis for the past two games.

"There was no reason I took him out of the starting lineup other than to try something different and I told him that," Altman said. "I said 'Johnny, last year when D.A. came back we went with him and you off the bench and you were the MVP of the (Pac-12) tourney. I am just trying that again.' He said 'Coach, I don't care. Whatever you think helps us.'"

Artis, who missed the first nine games this season because of an NCAA suspension, is averaging 5.8 points and 2.4 assists per game this season while shooting 35.3 percent from the field and 30.8 percent on three-pointers. He is playing 19 minutes per game but figures to be closer to the 24 minutes per game he logged last year if Loyd can't go.

"D.A. will have to carry a lot more load," Altman said. "He will have to play well."

Calliste played some minutes at point guard when Artis was suspended and he would likely be the backup again if Loyd is out. Calliste is averaging 15 points per game off the bench in his past four games.

"I am ready to do whatever to help the team win," Calliste said. "I know the system better than when I was playing (point guard), so I should be better."

Junior guard Joseph Young can also play the point as he battles through a shooting slump.

Young is shooting 35.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent on three-pointers in conference games after shooting 48.6 percent, including 46.7 on three-pointers in nonconference games.

He averaged 20.2 points in nonconference games and 13.1 in conference play.

"He puts a lot of pressure on himself," Altman said. "He wants to be a great player and wants to be a good shooter and he is. Once a shooter runs into a little slump, it wears on them a little bit."

Oregon still leads the conference with 85.9 points per game, although the Ducks are averaging 77.6 points in conference games. UCLA is right behind the Ducks at 84.3 points per game.

"We are going to have to be really sharp on defense to try and contain them," Altman said. "They have got a lot of guys who can score."

Sophomore Jordan Adams leads four players in double figures for UCLA with 17.3 points per game.

Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, is the reigning Pac-12 player of the week who is averaging 15.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game.

"He creates so many mismatches," Altman said. "He plays the point at 6-9 and we put 5-9 on him, that's quite a difference. If we put 6-4 on him, he still sees over him. If we put someone bigger on him, he works outside."

After allowing at least 80 points in five straight losses, Oregon held Washington State to 25 percent shooting in a 71-44 win on Sunday.

"Everything started to come together, the stuff we have been working on all came together in that one game," Calliste.

The Ducks are still considered to be in the NCAA Tournament by most prognosticators and would boost those hopes with a victory over the Bruins, who are tied for second in the conference and ranked 20th in the RPI. Oregon has won four straight against the Bruins dating back to 2011.

"This is why I came to the Pac-12, I wanted to compete at this level," Altman said.

"Fortunately the last few times we played them, we came out on top and we'd like to continue that string, but it will be really tough."

Even tougher if Altman is forced to play without Loyd for the first time at Oregon.


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