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Open Thread + Preview: Ducks vs. Golden Bears

California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks
5:30 PT | Mac Court
TV:  CSN Northwest, ESPN GamePlan

Projected Starters:

Oregon:  Leunen | Hairston | Taylor | Brown | Odia
California:  Hardin | Anderson | Randall | Christopher | Knezevic

After a surprising win over Arizona in the desert, Oregon looks to continue the turnaround at home vs. California.  We know that there is no such thing as a guaranteed win in the Pac-10, and, as it is, Cal is better than many thought they would be.  Cal right now sits at 10-3 after last Saturday's loss to UCLA.  And, while they have lost to two teams that Oregon has beaten (Utah and Kansas State), they have pretty good wins at Nevada, and at home vs. USC and Missouri.

The Golden Bears provide a tough matchup for the Ducks, as they have two legitimate inside scoring threats.  DeVon Hardin, who was injured for both meetings last year, is now healthy.  He is an intimidating shot-blocking presence on defense, and can do some damage around the basket offensively as well.  Anderson is similar to Leunen in that he is very comfortable around the outside for a big man, and can stroke the three with ease.  Anderson is the bigger scoring threat of the two, averaging 20 points to Hardin's ten.  That said, with Joevan Catron out, unless EK decides to start Frantz Dorsainvil, then you have to put Maarty on Hardin, and have someone like Malik guard Anderson.  I would start Dorsainvil if I were EK, but I think he's likely to start Odia instead, as Frantz only played four minutes against the Wildcats (I think he'll bring TP off the bench again).

Although inside might be the biggest problem area for Oregon, Cal certainly has other threats as well.  They are very balanced, with ten players averaging significant minutes.  Guard Patrick Christopher gets 17 ppg, and Jerome Randall gets 13.  They have other players averaging 7, 6, 4, and 4.  All the Ducks will really have to have a commitment to defense today.  There will be no non-threats on the floor.

The good news, however, is that Cal wants to play our game.  And nobody runs our game better than we do.  But there is a lot at stake.  This is a home game against a team that will be in the bottom half of the conference--the kind of game you HAVE to win.  Get it done, and we're back on the tourney track.  

This is your open thread.  Comment on the game here.