Tipoff: 5:30pm, TV (Comcast SportsNet NW), Radio, Satellite Radio (Sirius 214, XM 193), Internet (Live Audio/Video & Stats)
After the Ducks' shocking home loss to in-state rival Oregon State last Sunday, which was coming off one of the worst losses—to Division II Seattle University—in school history, Oregon will face Arizona State and its stingy defense tonight at Mac Court. Oregon had problems adapting to the Beavers' slow-down, defensive-minded style, and the Sun Devils basically run the same scheme...only better.
ASU's specialty is defense. And by specialty I mean, like, "best in the nation" specialty. The Sun Devils are currently No. 1 in the country in points allowed, giving up an average of 54.4 points per game. Last weekend, ASU limited Washington State and Washington to 46 and 51 points, respectively, en route to a weekend home sweep and a 2-2 Pac-10 record.
Led by point guard Derek Glasser, the Sun Devils are hoping to steal a win or two on the road this weekend, a crucial factor in what looks to be an extremely tight conference race. Oregon, which kicked off the Pac-10 season with two road wins of their own, needs this win to reestablish the home court advantage.
The truth is, this is a very important game for Ernie Kent and the Ducks. It's just unfortunate that Oregon doesn't match up well...at all.
Keys to the Game
Keep up the tempo. The Ducks cannot play into ASU's slow-down style. They absolutely need to get out and run to keep the Sun Devils from dictating the tempo and forcing Oregon out of its comfort zone.
Outshoot the Sun Devils from the arc. Seems simple enough, right? But seriously, this game could come down to three-point shooting. ASU and Oregon are No. 1 and 2, respectively, in three-pointers made in the Pac-10. Tonight, the Ducks need to shoot the long-ball better than the Sun Devils.
Rebound, rebound, rebound. Oregon is second in the Pac-10 in rebound margin, and they absolutely must out-rebound ASU if they want to win this game. The Sun Devils are 2-0 in the conference when winning the rebound battle, and 0-1 when losing it.
Although I think Oregon can win this game, I don't think it's likely. Arizona State's defense will likely suffocate both Tajuan Porter and Malcolm Armstead, and I don't know if Michael Dunigan is ready to carry this team on his shoulders yet, at least not offensively. And he'll need to if the Ducks want to win this game.