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Game Preview: Oregon basketball opens season with exhibition against Northwest Christian

NCAA Basketball Tournament - West Regional - Oklahoma v Oregon Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Basketball season is finally here! Sort of. Tonight, the No. 5 Oregon Ducks will face Northwest Christian University in their one and only exhibition game of the year before officially opening the season on Friday against Army.

This marks the fourth straight season that the Ducks and Beacons have faced each other for a friendly exhibition. It’s good for both teams. It allows Oregon to essentially have a tune-up game to fix any last-minute issues before the regular season, while the Beacons get a good challenge in a game that won't affect their season. Plus, it’s just a five minute drive down Franklin Boulevard to the NCU campus, so it’s not exactly out of their way.

Ducks at a glance

This is our first look at the 2016-17 Oregon squad. We have old friends (Tyler Dorsey, Chris Boucher, Jordan Bell) as well as new faces (Kavell Bigby-Williams, M.J. Cage, Keith Smith and Payton Pritchard).

Due to the absence of Dillon Brooks, who is out to start the year with a foot injury, the Ducks will probably switch to more of a man-to-man defense due to some gaps in size. We’ll probably see plenty of experimenting tonight, especially once the Ducks likely start to build a big lead.

Oregon’s No. 5 ranking in the preseason AP Top 25 is their highest in school history. The Ducks finished last year ranked No. 5 in the AP poll. Previously, they spent two weeks in the No. 5 spot of the AP poll during the 2002 season.

Beacons at a glance

This is also an exhibition for Northwest Christian, wedged into their regular season schedule. The Beacons are off to a 3-0 start, averaging 103 points per game and winning by an average margin of nearly 50 points. On Saturday in their first exhibition contest against a DI school, Northwest Christian fell to Boise State 91-76, taking a lead five minutes into the second half.

The Beacons have a couple of familiar faces on the bench with Luke Jackson as head coach and former Oregon assistant Fred Litzenberger also on the coaching staff. Jackson is still No. 2 on Oregon’s career scoring list with 1,970 points.

NCU is a talented team in the NAIA, coming in as the No. 12 team in the nation in the preseason rankings.

Tonight’s exhibition game at Matthew Knight Arena tips off at 7:00 PM PT and can be seen on the Pac-12 Network.