In terms of a player’s performance being synonymous with his team’s, Oregon senior forward Mike Moser is as close as it gets. The fifth-year transfer from UNLV has pulled himself out of a slump and helped the Ducks re-enter NCAA tournament discussions.
Moser was a huge part of Oregon’s hot start this season, averaging 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds through 16 games, 13 of which were wins. Even though the Ducks were on a slide to begin Pac-12 play, Moser stayed consistent and the Ducks appeared poised to end the losing streak at three games.
Instead, the losses piled up and Moser wasn’t himself. Oregon lost five of its next seven games, all but bursting its March Madness bubble. Moser’s scoring average dipped to 8.1 points and he shot just 35.3 percent from the field during that span.
“I think he put a tremendous amount of pressure on himself there for a while,” head coach Dana Altman said following Oregon’s 67-53 win over Washington State. “When things weren’t going well for us, he was trying to do too much and it didn’t work. Mike had some games there where he didn’t play well and felt really bad about them. He’s worked awfully hard in practice … Mike’s a good player, a good person and he wants to do the right thing.”
Not coincidentally, Moser’s play has improved and so has Oregon’s. The team has won three-straight games and re-entered themselves in the discussion of college basketball’s 68 best teams.
During the short but much-needed winning streak, Moser has averaged 18.7 points and has made 55.6 percent of shots from the floor. He’s led Oregon in scoring in each of the last two games and put up 21 tonight, highlighted by 11-straight points to begin the second half.
“I was just trying to bring some energy,” Moser said. “I just tried to come out with energy and tried to pick my teammates up and got some people going, so it kind of worked out.”
Altman noted the positive energy change following Moser’s steal and powerful dunk to open the half.
“The energy was just totally different,” Altman said. “With Mike getting the steal and a dunk and then we get the three right back … the energy level just changed.”
With Damyean Dotson’s recent legal trouble, Moser will be extra valuable down the stretch as Oregon embarks on the final two weeks of its season. Three of the Ducks’ final four games are against opponents ranked in the AP top 25, giving them a chance to prove their worth to the selection committee.
When asked about coming out of his slump, Moser chalked it up to the game of basketball.
“It’s just basketball. Sometimes you go through some rough patches. It usually never stays that way if you’re a good player,” Moser said. “I’ve been working on my game the same way, getting shots. (I’m) finally out of that slump. It feels good to be out of that and my teammates really helped pull me out of that.”
Follow Madison Guernsey on Twitter @guernseymd