Arizona Basketball faces their biggest test of the season as they travel to take on the No.9 team in the nation, Oregon Ducks, on the road in Eugene.
Battle of the heavyweights. When the Pac-12 schedule came out, everyone had this game circled. Arizona at Oregon, two contenders for the Pac-12 title, face-off in Eugene. Arizona Basketball has a chance to earn their first Quad 1 win. Time to Bear Down!
A loss would hurt the Wildcats more than the Ducks, as they have yet to prove they can beat a top rank team. They had their chance in December against Gonzaga but was unable to find a way to win against the Bulldogs at home. They also lose to a top-ranked Baylor team on the road, again unable to get the job done.
Hopefully, the third time around the Wildcats can find a way to get the victory. Won’t be easy, but nothing is in the Pac-12.
Game information, per ArizonaWildcats.com
Tip-off: Thursday, January 9th, 7:00pm MST
Location: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
2019 Records: Arizona 13-1 (1-0 in Pac-12), Oregon 12-3 (1-1 in Pac-12)
History: Arizona leads 51-32
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network Arizona Wildcats (Try Tunein Radio)
If you’re an Arizona Wildcat that lives in the area or wants to try and make a last-minute trip to watch them live, tickets are still available at StubHub.com
Arizona Basketball: Keys to victory
On paper, the Oregon Ducks are the heavy favorites in this one. They have the experience, depth, size, and strength to compete with the WIldcats. Plus, they are playing at home and the student and fans will get loud, giving them the home-court edge as well. But this is the Pac-12 conference, you can throw all that out the window. Any team can win on any given night.
The Ducks have already lost one game to the Colorado Buffaloes, but that was on the road. They faced a team that was shooting well and not intimidated at all. For the Wildcats to have the best chance to win, they must shoot well. Like they did against ASU, they must find a way to get the ball inside the paint to Zeke Nnaji, which opens up their offense
Taking care of the ball is a must for the Wildcats as the Ducks are the time of team that will punish you if you don’t. Especially on the road, the last thing they want to allow is for easy buckets and for the crowd to get into it.
Another key to victory is the starting five will need to get off to a good start. If they are able to then stay with the Ducks for a good part of the first half, it will give them the confidence they need heading into the second half.
Lockdown defense. The Ducks have three players that average in double figures, with Payton Pritchard leading the way with 18.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Defending him and forces others to step up in his place will be crucial. They have many scoring threats and everyone for Arizona will have to limit mental lapses on the defensive end.
The Wildcats average 83.1 points per game and the Ducks average 78.5. Both teams can score and may just come down to something like free throws, or having fewer turnovers. Going to be exciting for sure!
Arizona Basketball: Matchups to watch
Each is the leader for their teams and have a similar playing style. Both like to attack the ball, have excellent court vision, and can shoot the ball. In addition, they are the ones most relied upon when their team needs a bucket.
Both play with a lot of passion and energy. Who will have the greatest impact? Mannion or Pritchard. This is one matchup that is going to be exciting for sure!
Another interesting matchup to watch will be the play of Zeke Nnaji against the frontcourt of the Ducks. They have multiple players that will likely defend him, from Shakur Juiston to N’Faly Dante and Francis Okoro. It will be key for Nnaji to make quick decisions when faced with a double team or handling the ball inside.
Nnaji has the ability to take over the game and if he gets going against the Ducks, that will open up things for the Wildcats. Rebounds and not picking up silly fouls will be key as well for him, being the main frontcourt player that the Wildcats have.
At Zona Zealots, we are excited about this matchup. Two teams that have dominated the last decade of Pac-12 basketball face-off once against. Hopefully, the Wildcats can continue their winning ways and come away with the W. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!