The Oregon Ducks enter the soft spot in their non-conference schedule as they host the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lions at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Oregon Ducks will host the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lions on Saturday, and we all know what kind of a game this is expected to be. This is a game that you schedule because it's supposed to be an easy victory, and the play of both teams would suggest that will be exactly the case. Oregon sits at 6-1, having not had a whole lot of trouble with low-major teams since pulling away late in the opener against Northern Arizona. Meanwhile, Arkansas-Pine Bluff has struggled to a 1-5 record on the early season, losing their last two games on the road at Pac-12 teams: 66-38 to Washington St. and 67-54 to Arizona St.
The thing that stands out most about Arkansas-Pine Bluff is that they have a ton of trouble shooting the ball. This team is shooting 34% as a team on the season, which is damn near impossible. It's a mark that places them 346th out of 347 teams in Division I in field goal percentage. Consequently, they rank 342nd in scoring at 53.2 points per game. Oregon averages 78.3 points per game, and will certainly look to push the pace against such an offensively challenged team. It strikes me as very similar to the Jacksonville St. game (though the Gamecocks, challenged as they were, were far superior offensively to this team). The problem with that game is that they were able at times to ugly the game up and kept it close for a half by forcing 18 Oregon turnovers. It would show tremendous growth for the Ducks to cut that number down and impose their will as far as game flow on a very inferior team.
UAPB is led by guard Lazabian Jackson. He's not a particularly efficient shooter, shooting at a 40.5% clip, and 21% from beyond the arc, but he manages to score 12.5 points per game and is also an adept rebounder, averaging 5.5 boards per game despite his 6'3" frame. Forwards Terrell Kennedy (11.4 ppg) and DaVon Haynes are their other double digit scorers, though the fact that Kennedy shoots only 33% from the forward position doesn't speak particularly well regarding his offensive abilities. Haynes is the biggest guy on the team at 6'8", and pulls down 6.8 rebounds per game. Kennedy runs 6'6", and Mitchell Anderson 6'7", but that's all the height they have. Nobody else in the rotation is over 6'4", and it should put them at a tremendous disadvantage against Oregon's front line that goes six deep.
The Ducks should win the game handily, so I'm looking for signs of progress. Three things in particular I would like to see:
1. E.J. Singler needs to get back on track - Singler is shooting 33% on the season, and is 7/28 in his last three games. He is the leader of this Oregon team and needs to get his shooting stroke back.
2. Cut down turnovers - Oregon has turned the ball over a lot this season. Against what is an overmatched team in every aspect of the game, I want to see Oregon hang onto the ball better, and limit the number of turnovers to a reasonable amount (<12).
3. Dominate defensively - The Ducks have put forth a lot of effort defensively this season, but it often hasn't translated into execution. UAPB is a really bad offensive team, and I want to see the Ducks really put the clamps down on them.
Game Time: 3:30 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Network