Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines of Oregon State Beavers at Arizona Wildcats

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Arizona must get in motion in its half-court set and convert in transition against Oregon State's defense (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

Arizona must get in motion in its half-court set and convert in transition against Oregon State’s defense (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

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WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
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 5 PRODUCTIVITY LEADERS EACH TEAM
*Starters.
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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. Payback is a …

Since the start of the Lute Olson era in 1983-84, Oregon State has won the first meeting in Corvallis, Ore., seven times.

Arizona’s record in Tucson in the rematch: 6-1.

The Wildcats’ average margin of victory in those six wins: 17.2 points. They have avenged each game by double digits, including in 1989-90 when Arizona beat Oregon State 87-60 after losing at Corvallis 84-61.

The lone loss was in Sean Miller’s first season, when the Beavers, coached by Craig Robinson, beat Arizona 63-55 after winning in Corvallis by a score of 67-64.

Oregon State opened as a 17-point underdog for tonight’s game despite the Beavers’ 58-56 victory over Arizona only 19 days ago. The main reasons: The Beavers’ humiliating 73-55 loss at ASU and sixth-ranked Arizona playing its best basketball of the season with a convincing five-game winning streak since the Oregon State setback.

“Our guys have always responded,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said after Wednesday’s loss at ASU. “We know we have a monster, a big storm coming on Friday, but it’s going to tell us a little bit about ourselves I think.”

2. Zone busters.

The game should tell a little about Arizona, too. A lot, in fact.

The word in coaching circles with March on the horizon is to utilize a zone defense, like Tinkle employs, against an Arizona offense that is predicated on dominating in the paint either at the post or through penetration by T.J. McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Stanley Johnson.

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OREGON STATE (14-6, 5-3) AT NO. 6 ARIZONA (19-2, 7-1)
Tip Time: 8:10 p.m. MST
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson/Bill Walton)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
THE SERIES
Overall: Arizona leads, 58-21
In Tucson: Arizona leads, 31-6
Current Streak: Oregon State won 1
Last Meeting: Oregon State won, 58-56, on Jan. 11, 2015
Sean Miller vs. Oregon State: 7-4

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HOW ARE THEY DOING?
Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents.
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How will Arizona respond to Oregon State’s zone defense this time around? Arizona is averaging 77.8 points in its five-game winning streak since scoring only 56 points on 37.8 percent shooting from the field in Corvallis.

The Beavers lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense (.366), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.283) and steals (7.6). Arizona is second in the league shooting 49.8 percent from the field, but the Wildcats rank fifth in three-point shooting with a 36.2 percentage. The Wildcats shot only 25.3 percent from beyond the arc at Oregon State.

ASU routed Oregon State on Wednesday by constantly keeping its perimeter players in motion, rather than pass from station to station against the zone. The Sun Devils shot 8-of-18 (44.4 percent) from three-point range in the first half before making only 1-of-6 in the second, but they built a big enough lead (40-23 at the half) to hold on.

How McConnell, Gabe York, Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson move away from the ball, as well as with the ball, will be the difference.

3. On the rebound.

The Wildcats lead the Pac-12 with a plus-7.4 rebound margin.

Four Arizona players average at least 4.0 boards per game — Johnson (6.9), Hollis-Jefferson (6.4), Brandon Ashley (5.2) and Kaleb Tarczewski (4.9).

The Wildcats are 15-0 this season when the out-rebound the opposition. Oregon State out-rebounded Arizona 32-26 in Corvallis as Ashley and Tarczewski sat the last five minutes of the game because of the Beavers’ speed advantage.

Rebounds, especially on the offensive end, are so important to Arizona dominating a game. The Wildcats average a plus-4.9-point margin in second-chance points. They are outscoring teams by an average of 10.1 points per game in the paint.

So much of that depends on the activity of Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson, comprising Arizona’s potent engine.

In case you are wondering, the last time Arizona was led in rebounds by a player other than a center or power forward was only three years ago when Solomon Hill averaged 7.7 boards. Before that, it was Andre Iguodala (8.4) in 2003-04.

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PAC-12 RPI RATING
Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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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