Arizona basketball shouldn't worry about being a sitting duck
After suffering its first loss of the year last weekend, No. 2 Arizona (21-1; 8-1 Pac-12 Conference) seeks to regain its composure tonight in McKale Center.
The Wildcats look to get back on track against offensive-minded Oregon (15-6, 3-6 Pac-12).
With so many freshmen and transfers, the Oregon team has struggled to mesh; it has had a roller coaster of a season.
The Ducks were without their point guard, sophomore Dominic Artis, for the first nine games, but managed to win all 12 of their nonconference games and even reached a top 10 ranking. Since returning, Artis hasn’t been as effective as he was his freshman season, and his return didn’t help Oregon sustain its top-10 status.
Freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson falls on the floor after shooting a field goal during Arizona's 65-56 win over Utah on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Following the nonconference schedule, UO took a quick tumble. Oregon owns a 3-6 record and is no longer in the top 25, but don’t let that fool you.
The Ducks possess one of the most lethal offenses in the country. They are a consistent free-throw shooting team, making 10 percent more free throws than the Wildcats.
Oregon’s 84.7 points per game is the sixth highest in the nation, compared to Arizona’s average of 73.5.
However, the Ducks’ offensive proficiencies don’t transfer over to its defense. Oregon allows 75.4 points per game, and the Ducks have allowed their opponents to shoot with 44 percent accuracy from the field.
While this game will be the first for Arizona without sophomore Brandon Ashley in the starting rotation, head coach Sean Miller said he is confident that the team will be able to move on without him and still remain competitive in search of its national championship.
“A lot like Kevin Ware’s injury to Louisville [2013 national championships] last year, sometimes you see a group of guys rally behind a cause. Their hunger is renewed,” Miller said. “You already have a hungry team that’s done a lot of good things, [then] something is taken away from you and your effort level and your concentration is almost elevated because you lost somebody who is very meaningful to your team.”
Arizona leads the all-time series against Oregon, 45-25. But the Wildcats have lost the previous two games. Prior to that, the UA had been victorious in six straight contests against the Ducks.
Who to watch out for:
Mike Moser – redshirt-senior forward – #0
–6-foot-8; 211 pounds
–Averaging a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game to go along with 13 points per game.
Johnathan Loyd vs. T.J. McConnell
–Averaging a team-high 5.5 assists per game, Loyd ranks fourth in the Pac-12.
–T.J. McConnell leads the Pac-12 and comes in at 34th in the nation with 5.6 assists per game. McConnell also represents the conference leader with a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Three of Oregon’s four players who are averaging double-digit scoring are transfers. Moser, who was a considered candidate to transfer to the UA, previously played for UNLV and UCLA; Young transferred from Houston; and redshirt-senior guard Jason Calliste came from the University of Detroit.
No. 2 Arizona bounces back to defeat Oregon: 76-71
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17