The seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats take on the 11-3 Oregon Ducks Sunday night in Eugene, Oregon. Arizona looks to build off its momentum from a 73-49 beat down over Arizona State in the conference opener.
"I think both (Oregon and Oregon State) have proven they are very difficult to beat at home," Coach Sean Miller said of the Wildcats’ upcoming pair of games in Oregon. "(The Ducks) love up-tempo basketball. They love to get out in transition and utilize their defense to create those opportunities."
The Wildcats were defeated 64-57 in their last affair at the newly-minted Matthew Knight Arena. That loss marked the last regular season game of 2014 just before starting the Pac-12 conference tournament. Johnathan Loyd and Jason Calliste, who combined for 34 points in that game, are now gone.
Oregon looks for its seventh straight win this season going into a difficult matchup with Arizona. Senior guard Joseph Young, who spent his first couple seasons with Houston before transferring to Oregon in 2013, leads the Ducks. He currently averages over 20 points along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Young is the heart and soul of a different Ducks squad this season. The program saw six seniors finish school, several of which were key parts of the team. Canadian freshman forward Dillon Brooks has gotten off to a fast start this season averaging over 14 points and 5.5 rebounds.
6’7 freshman Jordan Bell leads Oregon in rebounds this year averaging seven a game. Although the Ducks do not match the height of Arizona, they rank tenth in the nation in total rebounds per game. Free-throw shooting is one clear advantage the Ducks have as they shoot a stellar 76 percent from the line compared to Arizona’s meager 66 percent.
Sean Miller’s changes in the starting lineup proved to be worthy last game. Elliott Pitts took over the starting off-guard spot and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was inserted at small forward.
Gabe York and Stanley Johnson moved to the bench but by no means did they lose their perspective roles with the team. Miller just tweaked the lineup for the betterment of the team and all four of these players are just as important as they were before the change was made.
This youthful but hungry Oregon team will certainly be no pushover. Its lone home loss this season came to Mississippi by six points. The same Ole Miss team that almost took down Kentucky in Lexington on Tuesday. Look for this to be a competitive game but expect Arizona to pull away at some point in the second half.
Time: 8:30 PM MST
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Announcers: Ted Robinson, Don MacLean and Jill Savage