Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines: Arizona Wildcats vs. Oregon Ducks



Joe Young celebrates after hitting a three-pointer last year in Oregon's upset win over Arizona in Eugene, Ore. (YouTube screen shot, click on photo to access video)

Joe Young celebrates after hitting a three-pointer last year in Oregon’s upset win over Arizona in Eugene, Ore. (YouTube screen shot, click on photo to access video)

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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. How will Arizona perform against this top scorer?

Oregon senior guard Joe Young is the latest of Arizona’s defensive targets to control. Young, a Houston transfer who at one time considered the Wildcats, is one of just three players in the nation averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and four assists per game.

That versatility makes him a Pac-12 player of the year candidate and likely NBA draft pick. During the course of the game Young will likely be defended by T.J. McConnell, Gabe York, Stanley Johnson and even Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (who will show NBA scouts that he can defend up to four positions).

Arizona is coming off a game in which it held ASU leading scorer Savon Goodman to only two points in 19 minutes in the Wildcats’ 73-49 win at McKale Center on Sunday. That begs the question: How has Arizona fared against the opposition’s top scorer this season?

Before shutting down Goodman, Arizona allowed the other team’s top scorer to eclipse their current scoring average in three straight games:

Oakland guard Kahlil Felder averages 17.5 points a game. He scored 20 against Arizona. UTEP forward Vince Hunter averages 16.7 points per game. He had 18 against the Wildcats. And UNLV wing player Rashad Vaughn eclipsed his average of 17.5 points with 21 points in the Rebels’ 71-67 win over Arizona.

Overall, in the 14 games Arizona has played, the opposition’s top scorer has produced more than their season average only five times (35.7 percent). Kansas State’s Marcus Foster (averaging 13.7 and scored 23 against Arizona) and San Diego State’s Winston Shepard (averaging 11.4 and scored 14) are the two others.


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NO. 7 ARIZONA (13-1, 1-0) AT OREGON (11-3, 1-0)
Tip Time: 8:35 p.m. MST
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson/Don MacLean/Jill Savage)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Overall: Arizona leads, 46-26
In Eugene: Arizona leads, 18-17
Last Meeting: Oregon won, 64-57, on March 8, 2014
Sean Miller vs. Oregon: 5-3

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Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents. Arizona is No. 13 with a strength-of-schedule ranking of No. 97. Oregon has an RPI rating of No. 94.
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It’s no coincidence that in four of those five games Arizona struggled (Oakland the only exception).

If Young eclipses his 20.1 average and shoots well in the process it may be a long night for Arizona. The other Ducks might feed off his success with open scoring opportunities off switching defenses.

Opposing top scorers have shot 40.1 percent from the field, including 35.2 percent from three-point range, against Arizona. The most interesting stat is those players are a combined 34 of 60 from the free-throw line, only 56.7 percent.

Young has made 92.6 percent of his free-throw attempts. He will not leave points at the line.

2. How will Kaleb Tarczewski fare against another small lineup?

Through the course of his three-year career Tarczewski has struggled against athletic, small frontcourts. Oregon fits that category with none of its starters taller than 6’7″.

Tarczewski has a size advantage at 7’0″ and 245 pounds but when it comes to foot and hand speed and reaction time, the smaller players have an advantage. That can lead to foul trouble for Tarczewski, who might be a split-second too slow to defend what amounts to a power forward he is defending.

Tarczewski has experienced the most foul trouble for Arizona with a team-high three disqualifications and 43 fouls in the 14 games (an average of 3.1 fouls per game).

Oregon’s frontcourt consists of players with similar size with none distinguishable as a true center: Dwayne Benjamin (6’7″ and 210), Elgin Cook (6’6″ and 205) and Dillon Brooks (6’6″ and 225).

Arizona should get a good read on how Tarczewski matches up with Oregon’s frontcourt in the first few minutes of the first half. The Wildcats’ advantage: They can throw over the top to Tarczewski for lobs.

With the departure of fluid power forward Craig Victor from the Arizona program this week, that means more minutes for Dusan Ristic (another 7-footer) and Matt Korcheck (who is a big-body power forward). Brandon Ashley, Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson will be key with their athleticism in and around the paint.

3. Dana Altman coach of the year as of now.

If the ballot was taken today, Altman would be the top coach in the Pac-12 with Sean Miller, Larry Krystowiak and Johnny Dawkins challenging.

Oregon dismissed three of its players in May — sophomore guards Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis and freshman forward Brandon Austin — because of rape allegations.

Altman faced uncertainty from the start of his Oregon career in 2010 after the Ducks had a mass exodus following the firing of Ernie Kent.

Oregon finished 21-18 that season and won the College Basketball Invitational title over his former team, Creighton.

Not only did Altman lose three of his top players, two top reserves — forward Ben Carter and guard A.J. Lapray — transferred out of the program after last season.

Oregon stands at 11-3 with the three losses against decent programs — Michigan, VCU and Ole Miss.

Miller knows more than anybody about Altman’s ability as a coach dating back to when they coached against each other at Xavier and Creighton, respectively. Altman was 3-1 against Miller in that mid-major rivalry and is 3-3 against him at Oregon.


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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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