8:30 p.m. PT :: MGM Garden Arena :: Las Vegas
TV :: ESPNU
Just because Oregon swept the huskies for the first time since 1995 this year, doesn't mean this game is going to go easy. Neither of these two teams are playing the same way right now. Oregon is coming off of two brutal defeats that ripped the conference championship away from them while Uw has won 4 of 5 with only a close loss to Ucla in there.
The huskies started the conference year off strong winning 4 in a row and placing themselves as one of the teams to beat, which other teams started to do. After a loss to Utah at home, Uw continued to pile up losses in 7 of their next 8 games. The final stretch the huskies seem to have righted the ship behind the play of their senior Scott Suggs.
In the last 5 games Suggs is averaging 18 points and shooting 65% from the field. If Oregon has any hope of winning this third match up they are going to have to contain Suggs and force one of the other guys to score.
Another key will be getting Uw to turn the ball over like they did in earlier in the year. Oregon forced 21 turnovers in the first game on their way to an 81-76 victory. Abdul Gaddy had 5 of those on his own something that is not lost on him now. After their win against WSU last night Gaddy was asked what he remembered about Oregon. "Turnovers. Turned the ball over a lot against them, and they're a pretty good defensive team" said Gaddy.
For Oregon the key will be getting back to mid season form as quickly as possible tonight. That means starting off strong. Oregon has routinely started games this year shooting below 40% in the first half, and against a team that just played a game the night before, the more they can rest their starters and keep a game close in the first half, the better the chance they'll have of pulling it out.
We'll see if Artis starts for the first time since coming back from his injury, but Oregon needs to start off getting points in the paint with Woods and Kazemi. Uw has two players to be able match Oregon's size down low in Aziz N'Diaye and Shawn Kemp Jr, but behind them the huskies are pretty thin in the front court. If Oregon can get the ball down low and score inside early they'll shoot a higher percentage and hopefully get Uw into some foul trouble.
Beating teams three times in a year is never easy, beating a heated rival like Uw brings a needed extra level of intensity. Oregon needs to come out focused and put the pressure on Uw. Make them play their starters heavy minutes and hope their legs start to feel some of it later in the game. It's do or die time. Win or go home. Put the conference games behind them, the real games start tonight.