Game Preview: UA @ OSU

Roeland Schaftenaar

Roeland Schaftenaar gets around Jordan Hill for his only basket against the 'Cats in Corvallis last year.

Despite the fact that Arizona won handily (64-47) in their first match-up of the year, this game is no shoe-in. First of all since OSU’s loss in Tucson they have gone 4-2 with their only losses to Washington and Washington State. More impressive is that two of their wins are against CAL and Stanford on the road. Oregon State also seems to be piecing things together under Craig Robinson as they are looking to build upon a four game win streak – they’re longest of the year.

 

 

 

With 17.25 points per game over the course of the Beavers winning streak, Roeland Schaftenaar has established himself as a viable offensive threat. Despite his current tear, I don’t believe that he’ll continue to impress against Arizona. First of all in three of the four games the Beavers faced teams without an serviceable inside presence (CAL, STAN, and Cal State Bakersfield), so Schaftenaar had a significant advantage inside as well as spotting up against big men who were apprehensive about guarding him away from the block. Secondly, the other team in their streak, Oregon, has Josh Crittle and Michael Dunigan who are both serviceable defenders. During the Oregon game Schaftenaar was limited to only 9 points and 2 rebounds – which is only slightly better than his 9 points, 3 rebounds against Jordan Hill and Arizona last time out.

 

Despite the significant inside advantage for Jordan Hill and the Wildcats, I’m still apprehensive about this game. Arizona was the beneficiary of the “home court” refs. The PAC-10 officiating constantly favors the hometown team – with few exceptions. Because of that, it shouldn’t be expected that the Wildcats should be the beneficiaries of a 16-5 foul differential in Corvallis. With a 17-point win in Tucson, and 17 points off of free throws, we could see a completely different result from last time. Especially if Craig Robinson is capable of keeping his cool while down by 8 with less than 2:14 remaining in the game.

 

Keys to the Game

 

Play Smart: This is a recurring theme for Arizona as costly turnovers and mental lapses have cost them nearly every game they have lost this year. The Beavers slow-down offense will force Arizona to stay sharp for the entire defensive possession as it aims to exploit mental lapses and defensive miscues. Offensive possessions will also be limited by the amount of time OSU uses in each possession, so every turnover will become more costly.

 

Protect the Glass: The last thing Arizona can afford to do is give up extra opportunities to OSU. The Beavers are less athletic, but they make up for it with smart play and solid decisions. In three of their recent wins (CS-BK, CAL, and USC) the Beavers have had an offensive rebound differential of –3 or better. Last time out Arizona held a 16-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

 

Home on the Range: I don’t think the ‘Cats need to live or die by the three against the Beavers, as they have a significant inside advantage. However, last time out the ‘Cats were only 5-21 (23.8%) from beyond the arc. If the advantage at the free-throw line is taken away, as I suspect it will be, this is going to be a key figure. The ‘Cats need to hit from long range with consistency to provide the inside-out game to compliment Jordan Hill.

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