Game Preview: Oregon @ Arizona

It’s a fight for survival as both the Wildcats and the Ducks enter tonight’s game at McKale Center 0-2 in conference play. The Wildcats are favored by 11 over the 6-8 Ducks, but don’t let that deceive you. The Ducks are perfectly capable of stealing a road win in Tucson – especially if they’re clicking on all cylinders. With the rigorous schedule the Ducks have faced and the inexperience at nearly every position, the Ducks 6-8 record is understandable. But with the #8 schedule in the nation, it figures that the Ducks should have learned a lot during the off-season and could be ready to have it all come together.

Freshman Michael Dunigan is a beast on the low blocks for the Ducks – giving them their first true threat in the paint since A.D. Smith in 2000. Dunigan is currently averaging a modest 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. But anybody that is capable of throwing down 18 points and 7 rebounds against “Psycho T” (Tyler Hansborough) and UNC is a threat that must be given a healthy dose of respect.

Another sign that Oregon is finally putting it together is wingman LeKendric Longmire. During the final five non-conference games Longmire averages 12.8 points a game while shooting 58%.

Unfortunately, with the exception of erratic Tejuan Porter, scoring has never been the major issue. The Ducks have struggled mightily on the defensive end for the past few seasons and are currently allowing a conference worst 77.4 points per game, allowing opponents to shoot nearly 50% from the field and being out-rebounded by nearly 7 a game.

Keys to the Game:

  • Get Fired Up: This is a must win for the Wildcats after going 0-2 in the Bay Area. If they fall to 0-3 the chances of them making the NCAA Tournament go out the window. Their post-season is on the line, and they better play like it from start to finish.
    Projected Need: Score 15 points in the first 7 minutes.
  • All About the Little Things (I): The Wildcats have been terrible about getting after the little things. Securing the defensive rebounds (especially on the long-3), hustling for loose balls, making the extra pass, coming hard off screens, protecting the ball, etc.
    Projected Needs: Out-rebound the Ducks by 7. Have a T/O differential of -4.
  • All About the Little Things (II): Nic Wise and Tejuan Porter measure in under 6’ but both have the capability of getting to the rim or shooting the three. The momentum and course of this game will hinge on this match-up of undersized guards.
    Projected Needs: Wise 14 points, 6 assists, <2 turnovers
  • Michael/Jordan: Michael Dunigan and Jordan Hill is the second match-up to keep an eye on. Hill has the experience and is a better player, but at 250 lbs. Dunigan has the size to push Hill off the block a bit. Hill needs to take it to Dunigan early and often.
    Projected Needs: Hill – 18 points, 12 rebounds, Dunigan – Fewer than 14 points, 7 rebounds
  • Knew this was coming: Chase Budinger needs to find his rhythm again, and he needs Pennell’s help. Pennell should run some early set plays to get Budinger some good looks at the hoop or draw a foul and get to the free throw line. I can’t think of a more opportune time for Budinger to come out of his slump than against a team allowing nearly 50% from the field.
    Projected Needs: Budinger 40% from the field, 8 first-half points, 8 free throw attempts, 14 points

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