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MBB Preview: Arizona at Oregon

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Arizona Wildcats (11-2) at Oregon Ducks (7-5)

7:00 PT, McArthur Court

TV:  Comcast SportsNet Northwest

Starting Lineups

Pos.  Arizona Oregon
F Derrick Williams (19.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.1 apg) Joevan Catron (17.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 apg)
F Jamelle Horne (7.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.8 apg) Jeremy Jacob (8.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.6 apg)
F Solomon Hill (8.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 apg) EJ Singler (12.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.4 apg)
G Lamont Jones (7.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.5 apg) Garrett Sim (7.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.6 apg)
G Kyle Fogg (7.8 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 2.8 apg) Malcolm Armstead (7.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.0 apg)


Conference play opens up tonight at Mac Court, as the Arizona Wildcats head into town for the second to last game at the Pit.  For those of you who haven't started paying attention yet, the Ducks' coaching change as been as good as advertised, with Oregon playing an entertaining brand of ball.  A full court press, consistent effort on the defensive end, and ball movement not seen during the past few seasons have helped Oregon stay competitive in every game they've played in this season, save for the blowout at the hands of Duke.  However, little talent offensively has meant that Oregon hasn't pulled off any big wins yet, even losing ot the likes of San Jose State and Idaho.  Needless to say, a strong Arizona team will prove quite a test, but after nearly knocking off Missouri and Virginia in the past few weeks, Oregon needs on a mediocre, rather than outright horrible, shooting night to have a shot to pull off the upset against some of these teams.  This Oregon team won't be great, but the system is going to cause them to win some games they shouldn't.

Arizona is off to a very hot start.  Their two losses were close against Kansas, and a more lopsided loss at BYU.  While, like Oregon, they have a bunch of wins against filler competition (Idaho State, New Mexico State, etc.), they have two things Oregon doesn't:  wins against big time teams (convincing Ws against Oklahoma and North Carolina State), and a bona fide Pac-10 Player of the Year candidate in forward Derrick Williams.  Arizona will be an NCAA team this season, and should contend with Washington for the conference crown.

Williams, the Pac-10 freshman of the year last year, can light up the scoreboard in a hurry.  You simply cannot leave him open.  While he has a good post up game, he can also step outside and knock down the three.  Through 13 games this season, his shooting numbers are something out of a video game:  63% from the field, a ridiculous 68% from three (13-19), and 82% from the line.  It will be ineteresting to see what Oregon does defensively.  Jeremy Jacob probably matches up with him best body-wise, but we still don't know how healthy Jacob is.  Joevan Catron may be a bit too slow, and EJ Singler is a bit too small.  Expect to see all three of those players switch up on him at some point, with some stretches of zone mixed in there as well.

The rest of Arizona's roster is nowhere near as scary, consisting mostly of role players.  However, they are ridiculously deep, with eleven players who have participated in every contest, and ten who are averaging at least five points a game.  They outrebound their opponents by about five a game, and create more turnovers than they commit (13 forced per game to 12 committed).  They've also shot almost 50 percent from the field and almost 40 percent from three as a team.  They are guaranteed to shoot better than Oregon and, with their depth, it will limit the tiring effects of Oregon's full court press as well.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

  • Limit Derrick Wiliams -- this is easier said than done.  Star players are almost always going to get theirs.  But Oregon has to make him work for it, and force the other players to score some of their buckets.  They have no other players that can score like he can.
  • Shoot 45% from the field -- good luck on this one.  This is what has kept Oregon from being a good team this season.  Oregon simply has to shoot better to win games.
  • Win the battle of the boards -- Arizona has been out-rebounding everybody this season.  Oregon will make stops.  But if they give up offensive rebounds, its all for naught.  Against a team whose strengths is their forwards, Oregon can't give up easy opportunities.