It feels like just yesterday that I wrote one of my favorite headlines, 'Arizona Basketball and Football Finish Season Undefeated in Eugene' and yet here we are again, taking on the Ducks and looking to sweep the season series. Just a few short weeks ago a dominant T.J. McConnell led Arizona with 21 points as he put the team on his back in the second half and Miller and the boys left Eugene with a win. This time around, Oregon enters McKale as heavy underdogs (15 point underdogs to be exact for you degenerates out there) as the Wildcats look to win their 33rd straight game at McKale Center.
Nothing too significant has changed for either team since our last meeting except for the fact that Oregon lost another National Championship game in football and that's fun for everyone. Some keys to the game are below:
I can't even remember what it's like to not have guys in foul trouble any more. I think Brandon Ashley and Zeus start games with two fouls at this point. The one great thing that has come from this recent rash of foul-plagued games is that we have gotten to see more from guys like Dusan Ristic and Matt Korcheck and I expect to see those guys, specifically Dusan, get more minutes regardless of foul trouble. Although I vastly prefer to not have any key guys in foul trouble it is nice to see the depth of this Arizona squad. When getting Rondae in foul trouble means more Stanley and getting Zeus in foul trouble means more Ristic, opposing teams can't make their strategy to simply get key Arizona guys in foul trouble. Having said that, refs calling a million fouls has the effect of slowing down the game and also can sometimes noticeably get Miller and our guys off their game for stretches of time. Hopefully for once, we can see a good clean game called by the maddeningly inconsistent Pac-12 refs we are stuck with.
Shutting Down Oregon's Scorers
Arizona completely and totally shut down Oregon's leading scorer Joseph Young when they last met and if the Cats can make his life miserable again we should expect to see the same result as last game. Young averages 19.3 points per game and is coming off a very efficient 16-point performance in Oregon's recent beat-down of UCLA. Young struggled to get only 12 points on 4-15 shooting in the last match-up and Arizona will be focused on shutting him down yet again. Oregon's second leading scorer Dillon Brooks didn't fare any better as he finished an abysmal 2-9 from the field and finished with just 9 points. Needless to say, if these two don't step up, Oregon will have very little chance of pulling off the road upset.
Rebounds and Free Throws
Not a key to this game but rather a key to every game. I came across these three stats which I stole from here which I was very impressed by:
1. Arizona is 14-0 this season when we out-rebound our opponents and 110-20 overall in Sean Miller's tenure when we accomplish that feat.
2. Arizona ranks second in the entire country in free throws attempted.
3. More impressively to me, Arizona is 3rd in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage knocking down a very respectable 75% as a team.
You probably don't need any further analysis here but if we keep getting to line, shooting a good percentage from the line and out-rebounding our opponents, we should continue to win games. How's that for some John Madden-like analysis?
Is Bill Walton Announcing?
Yes. Prepare yourself accordingly.
8 PM MST