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Oregon Heads to the Desert with Arizona State Up First

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NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon Ducks (11-5, 1-2) travel outside the state of Oregon for the first time in conference play this week. A hostile environment will come Thursday evening against the No. 11 Arizona State Sun Devils (13-2, 1-2).

Oregon hit the road last weekend but only to travel up I-5 for a Civil War showdown with Oregon State. The offense struggled as the Beavers came away with the win.

A 3-0 record to begin Pac-12 play appeared reasonable for coach Dana Altman despite the inconsistencies. Unfortunately, a complete effort remains to be seen from the Ducks.

Pressure is on in the desert for the Ducks to come away with at least one win against the Arizona schools. A win would bolster their resume come selection time. For now, the odds of making the NCAA Tournament appear unlikely.

Payton Pritchard and Elijah Brown have struggled out of the gates at the start of conference play. Pritchard still leads the Ducks with 15 points per game, but his average has fallen through three games against conference opponents.

Brown seems to be still adjusting to Oregon’s system which has attributed to a lack of scoring consistently. The senior transfer was expected to fill a void left by the players who departed for the NBA last season. So far, the numbers have been underwhelming.

Paul White has provided a boost coming off the bench for the Ducks. He was the top scorer in the loss against Oregon State. His production must continue as the offense remains out of sync.

The Ducks have an opportunity to score a huge win on Thursday. After an undefeated start in non-conference play, the Sun Devils came out flat in their first three games.

Arizona State made a strong statement to open the season with wins over Kansas State, Xavier, and Vanderbilt at home. But perhaps the most significant shockwave came with a road win over then No. 2 Kansas which helped the Sun Devils ascend to No. 3 in the standings.

Reality hit Arizona State with a tough loss to in-state rival, Arizona. The Sun Devils fought back late in the game, but the Wildcats remained strong to finish off the game.

Woes continued on the road with an overtime loss against a transitioning Colorado side. Arizona State managed to regroup and held on for an 80-77 victory over Utah.

Senior, Tra Holder, leads the Sun Devils in scoring with about 21 points per game. His fellow senior teammates, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice, provide a formidable scoring threat. The three players have never beaten the Ducks throughout their careers.

Transfers, Mickey Mitchell and De’Quon Lake, have impacted the Sun Devils immediately. Arizona State is 8-0 at home this season and hopes to add another win to the total.

Wells Fargo Arena will likely be a sellout as Arizona State is featuring a talented squad with capabilities of making a postseason run. Oregon has their hands full and cannot afford mistakes or fall behind early.

Tipoff begins at 7:00 p.m. with a telecast on FS1.