Consistently inconsistent best describes this year’s Oregon Ducks. After apparent breakthroughs during the season, the Ducks follow up with uninspiring performances. Coach Dana’s Altman’s message of playing with a sense of urgency is not getting through the players.
Oregon has been in close games, either leading or playing from behind. Despite a few early setbacks, the Ducks managed to pull out close wins.
But the trip to Los Angeles proved disastrous, hurting Oregon’s bid to return to the NCAA Tournament. As of now, the Ducks appear headed for the NIT. With a chance to change fortunes, sweeping the final homestand against the Arizona schools will give a glimmer of hope.
Should the Ducks manage to sweep the Arizona schools, a run in the Pac-12 Tournament or winning is the only viable option. For now, the focus is on beating the Sun Devils.
For all the hype after an undefeated non-conference performance, Arizona State has fallen during conference play. The Sun Devils have been a different team since the turn of the calendar year. In general, road teams have been subject to subpar efforts in hostile environments.
Arizona State is coming off a split of the Washington schools on the road. A win against the Cougars was followed up by a close loss to the Huskies. The Sun Devils are hoping to return the favor with a win in Eugene after the Ducks took the first game in Tempe.
The Ducks, for the third time this season, are coming off back-to-back losses. A defensive breakdown allowed USC to score the game-winner in the final seconds. Oregon fought hard but eventually fell in overtime against UCLA in a winnable contest.
Tra Holder leads the Sun Devils with about 19 points per game. He will undoubtedly give all as the senior has yet to beat the Ducks in his collegiate career.
Coach Altman must see his team play well on the boards and transition quickly. The Ducks are tough to play against in the up-tempo game, a strength that works in their favor when successful.
Tipoff begins at 8:30 p.m. PST with a telecast on FS1.