Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines of Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats



Arizona will attempt to win its first conference tournament title since 2002 (YouTube video 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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NO. 5 ARIZONA (30-3) VS. OREGON (25-8)
Tip Time: 8:05 p.m. MST
TV: ESPN (Pasch/Walton/Goodman)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Jeffries/Hansen)
National Radio: Westwood One (Larrivee/Montgomery)
Overall: Arizona leads, 48-26
At Neutral Sites: Arizona trails, 0-2
Current Streak: Arizona won 2
Last Meeting: Arizona won, 90-56, on Jan. 28, 2015
Sean Miller vs. Oregon: 7-3

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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson vs. Joseph Young Part 3.

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Fitting that tonight’s game is on the Las Vegas Strip, known for its star-studded shows.

The Pac-12 Player of the Year selection of Oregon’s Joseph Young drew plenty of scrutiny from Arizona fans and some in the media. T.J. McConnell, passed over by league coaches in the selection of Young, said the outcome was “disappointing” but also claimed Young was the right choice.

Hollis-Jefferson’s ambition is two-fold tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the Pac-12 tournament title game: Shut down Young for the third consecutive time, making believers of those who snubbed him for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award, and vindicate McConnell at the same time about not getting that Pac-12 player of the year.

“I really commend T.J. McConnell just for leading his team and getting after it these first two games (in the Pac-12 Tournament),” Young said after Friday’s 67-64 win over Utah on his last-second three-pointer.

“I felt like I didn’t lead my team at that time (when Oregon lost both games to Arizona in the regular season). But now I think we’re more as a team, more as a family. Coach (Dana Altman) got us ready.”

The 12 points Young scored against Arizona on Jan. 28 at McKale is his lowest output in the last 15 games. Young is averaging 22.7 since that game, won by Arizona 90-56.


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2. Brandon Ashley playing his best basketball — by far.

In this site’s productivity rating system, Brandon Ashley has led the Wildcats in a four-game stretch, the longest since Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led his team in the first four games of the season.

Ashley’s productivity rating against Cal (twice), Stanford and UCLA in the last four games is 1.085. His season rating is at .627.

Ashley mentioned after the victory over UCLA, in which he scored a career-high 24 points, that the recovering time from his foot injury from last year took most of the season.

That transition period was all psychological because physically he was cleared to play from the start.

“I would definitely say my confidence is a little bit higher,” Ashley said when asked if he is on top of his game. “Coming off an injury it takes time to adjust. At this point, I generally feel like it is completely behind me.”

3. Oregon looking to rebound in more ways than one.

Arizona held Oregon to a season-low 20 rebounds on Jan. 18 at McKale Center while grabbing 34. In the first meeting, the Wildcats controlled the boards 40-27.

Hollis-Jefferson had 16 rebounds in the games, followed by Kaleb Tarczewski’s 15 and Stanley Johnson’s 13.

Oregon’s best rebounder in both games was 6’9″ forward Jordan Bell with only nine, one less than what Tarczewski produced in the first meeting.

The Ducks, who do not have a true center in their rotation, totaled only 12 offensive rebounds in 64 opportunities against Arizona this season, a scant 18.8 percent.

The key for Oregon to offset Arizona’s size advantage is to maintain a transition game as much as possible and set screens to release perimeter threats Young, Elgin Cook and Dillon Brooks for high-percentage looks.

That’s easier said than done because of Arizona’s athleticism on the perimeter and the defensive awareness especially of T.J. McConnell and Hollis-Jefferson.

Tarczewski is coming off a subpar game, fouling out against UCLA with only five points and one rebound in 23 minutes against UCLA. Look for him to come out driven after the coaches get into his ear about his necessary involvment on the boards on the blocks on both ends.


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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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