Oregon confident heading into games versus Arizona, Arizona State
The No. 23 ranked Oregon men’s basketball team will attempt to do what few teams have in the past couple years Thursday: knock off Arizona at the McKale Center. The No. 18 ranked Wildcats, despite coming off a 74-73 loss at California, are riding a 49-game home winning streak. For those keeping tabs, that’s the longest home winning streak in the country.
“It’s a big game, crazy atmosphere,” Elgin Cook said. “I’m confident in our team. We don’t really care about their winning streak.”
Airing on ESPN 2 at 6 p.m., this matchup is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated conference games of the season. Arizona may be the top ranked Pac-12 team nationally, but Oregon will head into this game on top of the conference standings.
As of late, the Ducks have struggled mightily against Sean Miller’s powerhouse program. To be exact, they’ve lost the last three games by an average of 26.6 points. Additionally, Oregon was held to 38.5 percent shooting and lost the rebounding battle by 14.7 on average.
“We didn’t rebound with them, their strength inside really hurt us,” Dana Altman said about last year’s struggles against Arizona. “We had a good three-year stretch against them, but they sure got us last year.”
If the Ducks want to escape Tucson with a win, they’re going to have to minimize second chance points and limit the veteran trio of Gabe York (13.9 PPG), Ryan Anderson (14.9 PPG) and Kaleb Tarczewski (10.7 PPG) as much as they can.
Fortunately for Altman and his players, Arizona’s second-leading scorer Allonzo Trier (14.8 PPG), who is ailing a broken hand suffered against USC two weeks ago, will be indefinitely out for this game.
“We just have to continue to do what’s been working,” Casey Benson said. “Outwork our opponents, rebound, defend has been what’s getting us victories. As long as we keep rebounding and defending, we’ll be right there in the end.”
While Oregon is just 1-4 on the road this season, its current level of play is starting to reflect a team that may be close to peaking. Since its conference opening road loss to Oregon State, the Ducks have rallied to a 5-1 record.
“It’s better to peak now, so it can last for a longer time,” Dillon Brooks said. “We got second in the Pac-12 last year and we peaked a lot later. Our time will come.”
In the last four games, Oregon has averaged 84.8 points, shot 50.6 percent, and 44.3 from 3-point range. Brooks has led the team with 20.3 points on 53.8 percent shooting and is 7-of-16 from long range. Chris Boucher has added 17.0 points on 68.4 percent shooting.
The Ducks are going to need both of them to continue their hot streaks tonight if they want a chance to remain atop of the standings and end the nation’s longest home winning streak.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim
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