Arizona is on its way to clinching another Pac-12 title and most of that can be attributed to the teams around them. Despite being talented, the Wildcats have looked far from dominant this season and this is another Game that could highlight that. Oregon remains a bubble team with a long shot of making the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks would need to win this and sweep the Washington schools next week to be considered.
At home, the Ducks have been much better, beating teams like UCLA and Washington. Even in the trip to Arizona a little more than a month ago, the Ducks were actually leading 77-76 with less than five minutes to go. Of course, things quickly fell off as they scored just two points between 5:40 on the clock and the one-minute mark. Clearly, that can’t happen again if they’re looking for an upset.
As for Arizona, nothing has come easy on the road, losing to Colorado and Washington, but also scraping past Utah and Stanford in addition to the recent win at Arizona State. At the least, the Wildcats have a full week off ahead of this Game so they’ll be rested.
In that first meeting, everything went almost exactly according to the numbers. Arizona drew a ton of fouls (34-of-37 on free throws) between Allonzo Trier and DeAndre Ayton and that’s one of Oregon’s defensive flaws. The other is allowing a bad defensive field goal percentage and the Wildcats shot 19-of-31 on two pointers and didn’t really need threes (6-of-15). On the other end, Oregon capitalized on Arizona’s poor three-point defense with help from Troy Brown (6-of-10), but it wasn’t enough as the Ducks still went 8-of-27 from long range.
To win at home, the Ducks can’t get into foul trouble after Four guys had at least Four fouls in that first Game. That means they’ll need to figure out how to deal with Ayton and Dusan Ristic down low. Kenny Wooten is a great shot blocker, but he gives up tons of size to Ayton and that will be a problem again. Wooten only played 12 minutes in that first meeting so it’s clear he wasn’t doing much, while Oregon’s other big Paul White played 19 minutes. Oregon tried going small and that worked offensively, but Arizona still scored 90 points for a reason.
Elijah Brown and Troy Brown will be key in limiting what Arizona can do on the perimeter. But the biggest thing for this Game is that Trier was suspended earlier in the week and he had 25 points in the first meeting. The Wildcats needed overtime to beat Oregon State on Thursday and this one will probably be harder. Simply put, Arizona doesn’t have a perfect replacement for Trier as it will need to be a mix of guys, mainly Ayton and Rawle Alkins to step up their Games.
The Ducks match up a little better with Trier out and that could lead to an upset. It’ll be up to what they can do offensively against a defense that hasn’t looked good most of the season. UCLA capitalized on the weak Arizona defense a couple weeks ago and that’s what Oregon has to do. Of course, that means making threes, which isn’t something Oregon is great at.
Point guard Payton Pritchard is the only decent outside shooter on the team and he’s still only at 41.2%. If one of the Browns can help out in that aspect or even MiKyle McIntosh, who can get hot, that would be a starting point. When this offense gets going, it can hum, but that’s rarely happened this season. To steal a home win, the Ducks will need to hit some shots and find a way to limit Ayton and Ristic down low. If that happens, Oregon should be in business, especially with Trier out of the lineup.
Our Pick – Arizona +4