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Talkin’ Tall Firs: Friday Night Hoops in Eugene

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Two Sweet Sixteen teams from last year’s NCAA tournament will face off

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Houston Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks have a bone to pick with the Cougars. Last year, Houston won 65-61 at home but that was after they gave up a 20-point lead in the first half to Oregon. That was the then #18 Ducks third loss of the 2018-2019 season.

It seems that with this year’s team Dana Altman has assembled is a lot different than last year’s team based on the fact that they’re starting the season off really strong and figuring out each other’s tendencies early. A good sign for how much more this team can grow and prosper as the season goes along.

Another early test awaits the Ducks as the Cougars will be bringing the heat to Eugene.

Houston Cougars (2-1)

This year, the Cougars are a bit more inexperienced and are missing leadership on the floor early on. That will likely be changing as the season moves forward as both Quentin Grimes and Nate Hinton become more familiar with Coach Kelvin Sampson’s system. If that backcourt gets hot, it will be a challenge for Pritchard, Mathis, and Duarte to slow down.

Wins - Alabama State, Rice

Losses - BYU

KenPom Ranking - #35

Key Numbers:

  • 84.0 points per game (tied-35th in the nation)
  • 43.3 rebounds per game (35th in the nation)
  • 14.0 assists per game
  • 3.7 blocks per game
  • 5.3 steals per game
  • 72.3 points allowed per game
  • 49.2 field goal percentage

Player to Watch For:

Quentin Grimes, Sophomore - 18.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 57.1 FG%

The Kansas transfer leads his team in both points and assists per game. Grimes will be the main source of offense for the Cougars. The 6’5” combo guard always seems to be in attack mode. He loves to play at the rim and has good body control when driving to the hoop.

A weakness to his game right now is his free throw shooting (58.8%; 10-17 FT). The Ducks should try to force him to the free throw line and let the home crowd do the rest.

Game Time:

Houston vs #11 Oregon - 9:00 PM ET, PAC-12 Network on Friday, November 22nd

ORE: -7.5

Over/Under: 137

Score Prediction:

79-68, Ducks over Cougars

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I am a bit worried that the Ducks haven’t played since Sunday in their win over UT Arlington but the home crowd at Matthew Knight Arena on a Friday night should bring a lot of energy. Dana Altman and the crew will get their revenge against the Cougars thanks to an offensive surge from the Ducks (averaging 81.5 points per game so far this season). Another key to a victory for Oregon will be to play the passing lanes. They are averaging exactly 7 steals per game through the first four games.

*Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho