Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines of Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats



T.J. McConnell had his best game as an Arizona Wildcat at Oregon three weeks ago with an Arizona career-high 21 points (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

T.J. McConnell had his best game as an Arizona Wildcat at Oregon three weeks ago (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

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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)

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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. Defense wins this game for Arizona.

Oregon’s high-scoring offense leads the Pac-12 at 77.8 points per game while Arizona ranks third in the conference allowing only 59.5 points.

Oregon managed only 62 points against Arizona in the Wildcats’ 80-62 win 20 days ago in Eugene, Ore. The Ducks, who shot a season-low 35.2 percent against the Wildcats, scored only 28 points in the second half.

Oregon is 13-0 when shooting better from the field than the opponent and 1-6 when being outshot. Arizona made 48.2 percent of its field goals against the Ducks in the first meeting.

The bottom-line: Defense wins. Working in Arizona’s favor is playing in McKale Center, where the Wildcats have won 32 straight games and have not allowed an opponent to score more than 68 points this season.

Unreal stat: The team that has scored the most at McKale Center this season with the 68 points is Cal State Northridge, which is Arizona’s worst opponent with a 5-15 record.

In Arizona’s three Pac-12 wins at McKale against ASU, Colorado and Utah, the opponents averaged only 51.3 points while shooting 38.2 percent from the field.

The game within the game in terms of scoring and shooting will be between senior guards T.J. McConnell vs. Joe Young. Three weeks ago, McConnell outplayed Young, scoring 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting compared to Young’s 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

McConnell occasionally defended Young but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s defense mostly shut Young down.


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OREGON (14-6, 4-3) AT NO. 6 ARIZONA (18-2, 6-1)
Tip Time: 8:10 p.m. MST
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson/Bill Walton/Jill Savage)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Overall: Arizona leads, 47-26
In Tucson: Arizona leads, 28-7
Current Streak: Arizona won 1
Last Meeting: Arizona won, 80-62, on Jan. 8, 2015
Sean Miller vs. Oregon: 6-3

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Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents.
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2. Assist assets.

Oregon is 13-2 when having more assists than the opposition. In the first meeting, the Ducks had only seven against Arizona, which mustered only nine.

The biggest story here is the assist-to-turnover ratio with both teams. Arizona’s execution on offense will help its defense by limiting turnovers that could lead to open looks by Young and Co.

Oregon freshman guard Casey Benson, a top reserve who hails from Tempe Corona del Sol, has an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of 3-to-1. He is not among the Pac-12 leaders, however, because he is not averaging the minimum of 3 assists per game. He has 51 assists with only 17 turnovers in 20 games.

Another freshman, Ahmaad Rorie is second on the squad with a 1.92 assist-to-turnover ratio. In Pac-12 games, the two freshmen point guards have combined for 37 assists and only 10 turnovers.

McConnell is currently ranked second in the Pac-12 with a 3.08 assist-to-turnover ratio (behind Utah’s Delon Wright, who is at 3.59).

In his two-year career at Arizona, McConnell owns a 3.04 assist-to-turnover ratio, which puts him on pace for the best mark in program history among players with at least 300 assists.

Source: Arizona media relations
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3. Aggressive play paying off at line for Arizona’s wing combo.

Largely because of the assertive play of Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson on the wing, Arizona is averaging 27 free-throw attempts per game, an increase of 4.1 per game over last season’s numbers.

The Wildcats’ total of 540 free-throw attempts and 369 free-throws made rank second and third nationally,

Johnson leads Arizona with 127 free-throw attempts, good for 35th overall and second among freshmen nationally. His 127 free-throw attempts are the 10th-most by a freshman in Arizona history.

Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson draw 6.5 and 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes played, which has them leading the Wildcats in free-throw attempts at 127 and 118, respectively.

Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson rank first and fourth, respectively, in the Pac-12 in free-throw attempts, which is also good for 35th and 57th nationally, respectively.

The plentiful trips to the free-throw line has translated into additional scoring opportunities for both. In Pac-12 games, they have nearly identical numbers. Johnson is 36-of-44 (81.8 percent) from the free-throw line while Hollis-Jefferson is 35-of-47 (74.5). They were 13-of-14 from the line at Cal last Saturday.


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Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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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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