Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats face Oregon team in search of signature win

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Oregon performed its walk-through practice outdoors this morning …

PAC-12 RPI (ESPN.com)
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ArizonaLogo logo.Oregon2

OREGON (15-6, 3-6) at
NO. 2 ARIZONA (21-1, 8-1)

Tip: 7:05 p.m. MST
Television: ESPN and WatchESPN (Dave Pasch/Bill Walton/Jeff Goodman)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
National Radio: Sirius 91; XM 91 / Westwood One (Dave Ryan/Jim Jackson)
Rankings: Arizona – No. 2 AP Top 25/No. 3 USA Today Coaches Poll; Oregon – Not ranked in either.

Quick notes …

>> Would you have believed at the beginning of the year that the only Pac-12 teams with winning records against the RPI Top 50 are Arizona (7-0), UCLA (4-3) and … Oregon State (3-1)? Not Oregon, but Oregon State. The Ducks have a No. 44 RPI ranking but are 1-3 against Top 50 teams. A victory over Arizona would get the Duck off NCAA Tournament life-support for the time being. If the season ended today, Oregon would be NIT-bound. …

Mike Moser could've been a Wildcat if Lute Olson did not retire

Mike Moser could’ve been a Wildcat if Lute Olson did not retire

>> A game with significant NCAA tournament implications is at Tempe tonight. ASU, No. 47 in the RPI, can ill-afford to lose to No. 87 Oregon State. On the other hand, the Beavers desperately need quality victories to boost their resume. …

>> Former Arizona basketball recruit Mike Moser, who verbally committed to Lute Olson before the Hall of Fame coach retired in 2008, makes his first appearance at McKale Center since he was with UCLA in the 2009-10 season. Moser played for four minutes and did not score in UCLA’s 78-73 loss on March 4, 2010. Since then, Moser has transferred to UNLV and Oregon.

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From Portland, Moser was one of a few Oregon standouts recruited by Olson. The most significant are cousins Damon and Salim Stoudamire.

Gabe York will be the difference-maker for Arizona down the stretch

Gabe York will be the difference-maker for Arizona down the stretch

>> The first game without Brandon Ashley (out for the season with a broken foot) should include more minutes for the other starters and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Gabe York with deep reserves Jordin Mayes and Matt Korcheck called on more often. Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell are essential to the Wildcats. York must fill the role of catalyst from the perimeter. He is Arizona’s lone pure outside shooter.

Johnson can shoot from the perimeter but his greatest asset is his attacking style. Hollis-Jefferson thrives in the lane. McConnell is a pass-first guy who loves to penetrate the defense. He can occasionally can drain the jumper, providing a bonus for the Wildcats, but he must continue to be the setup guy primarily.

No question about it: The player who will be the difference in Arizona going far in the NCAA tournament is York because of his ability to loosen the defense when he hits the three-pointer.

PAC-12 STANDINGS
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NOTE OF THE GAME: When Oregon last played at McKale Center on Jan. 14, 2012, the only existing Arizona players on the roster were Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes.

ARIZONA’S STRENGTHS VS. QUESTION MARKS
Per NCAA national statistic rankings out of 345 Division I teams
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Arizona is No. 2 and 21-1 despite deficiencies with total steals, free-throw shooting and number of three-pointers made. Arizona is solid with its rebounding, defense in particular in the lane and taking care of the ball (an early-season problem). Arizona’s free-throw ranking (256th) improved 10 percentage points to 67.2 percent with the Wildcats’ 16-of-16 performance at Cal last Saturday.

McConnell leads the Pac-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.86). Joseph Young, a Houston transfer who considered Arizona after last season, leads the league with a free-throw percentage of 89.2.

Oregon leads the conference in scoring offense (84.7 points a game) while the Wildcats are leading in scoring defense (56.8 points).

ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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