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Oregon Ducks Basketball vs. Western Carolina Preview

Oregon's Hardwood Heroes take the court in their home opener against Western Carolina.

Reuters-USA TODAY Sports

Western Carolina Catamounts vs. No. 18 Oregon Ducks

8:00 PT :: Matthew Knight Arena

TV :: Pac-12 Network

Fresh off an impressive season-opening win against the Georgetown Hoyas in South Korea, Oregon's hardwood heroes return to Eugene for the home opener against the Western Carolina Catamounts. Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, the Catamounts finished third in the SoCon last season, at 9-9 in the conference and 14-19 overall. Losing only one rotation player off last year's squad, WCU is and experienced bunch that was picked to finish third in the confrence again this season. They defeated UNC-Asheville, 74-67, on Monday in their season opener.

Western Carolina's biggest problem is that they do not play defense well, ranking ninth in the conference (1.04 points/possession) in defensive efficiency last season. However, they get extra possessions by grabbing the offensive rebound about a third of the time.

Like Oregon, Western Carolina will play a four-guard lineup for large stretches of time. Point guard Trey Sumler is the star of the team, averaging 18.4 points per game last season. 6'8" post Tawaksi King is the only big guy, and is good for 11 points a game. Three guards, Sumler, Tom Tankelewicz, and Mike Brown all hit more than 35% from three. Rebounding is pretty spread out, with eight guys averaging more than three rebounds a game, but none more than six.

Overall, this should be a good matchup for Oregon. They are small like the Ducks, but don't play defense anywhere in the vicinity of what Oregon plays. They won't get bullied around in the middle, so the Ducks should feel free to run a lineup of Loyd-Calliste-Young-Dotson-Moser for large stretches, which puts them in by far their best offensive situation without exposing them to any additional defensive liability. Oregon is likely to run it's zone, but there are really only a couple of guys on the WCU roster that can bust that from the outside, and the Ducks are generally tight with their defensive rotations. The Ducks are a 17-point favorite, and there is no reason not to expect them to cover.