The Oregon Ducks Men's Basketball squad takes the floor Monday for their final non-conference game, an afternoon tilt with the Nevada Wolf Pack. Nevada (9-4) is riding a five-game winning streak, and already have a win in a Pac-12 building this season, beating Washington, 76-73, in Seattle on Dec. 8. However, they have dropped their other road games on the season: at Marshall and at Pacific, and have no other real wins of note on the schedule this season. Oregon rebounded from a disappointing triple-overtime loss at UTEP by pounding Houston Baptist, 91-50, in Eugene before Christmas.
The Wolf Pack have two big scorering guards that you really have to watch out for. Malik Story is a 6'5" guard who does pretty much everything well offensively. He averages 17.3 points per game. While his overall shooting percentage is a bit low at 43%, he shoots the ball well from deep (37%), and from the charity stripe (77%), and also pulls down nearly four boards a game. He's complimented by 6'1" point guard Deonte Burton, who averages 16.0 points per game. Burton isn't the three point shooter that Story is (31%), but is a better finisher and has a better FG% overall (48%). Burton went for 29 points and six steals against Washington earlier in the season.
The front line is has some size, but is not imposing. 6'10" DeVonte Elliott , 6'8" Cole Huff, 6'9" Kevin Panzer, and 6'8" Jerry Evans, Jr. provide some nice depth, but statistically all give you the same thing--7-8 points per game, and 4-5 rebounds. Its a nice front court, but one that Oregon better be able to handle by this point in the season.
Nevada, in some ways, has a similar statistical profile to Oregon. The Wolf Pack want to get the pace up a bit (Nevada averages 75 points per game to Oregon's 79). Neither team shoots the ball from deep terribly well (both at 32%). The big advantage for the Ducks is that they are the far superior rebounding team. Oregon, thanks in large part to Arsalan Kazemi, get an offensive rebound on nearly 41% of their misses, one of the highest rates in the country. Nevada is a full ten percentage points lower. The Ducks also clean up on the defensive glass nearly 73% of the time, with Nevada down at 68%. Oregon has been the best rebounding team in the conference, and that fact has been the team's biggest advantage this season.
The job for Oregon in this game is twofold. First, they have to exert their will on the glass against an average rebounding team. Secondly, they need to contain one of the two guards. If they can take one of those guys out of the game, you're making the Nevada offense awfully one dimensional. Given how much they struggle with the outside shot, I would expect that Dana Altman will go with the zone very early in this one.
This is a game that Oregon should win, especially at home. A victory would move the Ducks to 11-2 to end non-conference play, a mark that would have to be considered successful. However, as their victory against Washington showed, they are a dangerous team that can get you if you don't give them your best effort.
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Matthew Knight Arena
TV: Pac-12 Network