The Oregon Ducks face their stiffest test in more than a month, as they play host to the fourth-ranked Arizona Wildcats in Pac-12 Conference action on Thursday night.
At 14-0, Arizona is one of only a handful undefeated teams left in Division I, and the team has won its first two conference games in taking out the newest members of the Pac-12 (Colorado and Utah) over the last week. The Wildcats have played the majority of their games at home (9-0), and this is only their third true road tilt of the season, and the first of three straight they will play outside of Tucson.
Oregon is enjoying a stellar start to the season as well, the team winning 12 of its first 14 games. The Ducks are a perfect 10-0 at home, marking their best start ever at Matthew Knight Arena, and their best home start since going 16-0 at McArthur Court during the 2001-02 campaign. Overall, Oregon has won 16 straight home games, and its 10 wins there this season have come by an average of 23.5 ppg. The Ducks are in the midst of a three-game win streak, with their latest triumph coming at bitter rival Oregon State (79-66) in the Pac-12 opener last weekend.
Arizona owns a 45-24 edge in the all-time series with Oregon, and the 'Cats have won six of the last 10 meetings. The Ducks did manage to claim victory in the most recent encounter, taking a 59-57 decision in Tucson on Jan. 14, 2012. UA is 4-1 in its last five trips to Eugene.
Arizona doesn't have that one superstar that dominates the competition on a regular basis, but instead relies on a steady supply of consistent contributors in helping it average 76.5 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .463 overall, .382 from 3-point range and .766 from the free throw line. The Wildcats also play tough defense, yielding a mere 60.7 ppg in allowing foes to shoot 39.8 percent from the floor, which includes a 36.6 percent showing from beyond the arc. A +10.3 rebounding margin also helps, and the 'Cats were pretty much on that number in the recent win over Utah, outworking the Utes on the glass, 38-27. Solomon Hill scored 19 points, Mark Lyons tallied a dozen, and Brandon Ashley finished with 11 for an Arizona squad that shot just 36.2 percent from the field, but went 11-of-12 from the foul line in what turned out to be a 60-57 final. Lyons continues to pace the Wildcats with 14.1 ppg, and he also serves as the team's primary playmaker with his 44 assists. He does however, have nearly as many turnovers (39). Hill (13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Nick Johnson (12.2 ppg, 2.3 spg) are also averaging double-digits in the scoring column.
From a statistical standpoint, Oregon is right there with Arizona as the team averages 77.5 ppg while allowing 60.8 ppg. The Ducks are 46.7 percent accurate on their field goal attempts, while permitting the opposition to connect on only 38.4 percent of their total shots, which includes a low 29.8 percent effort from 3-point land. A total of five players are averaging double figures in scoring, but balance is the key as they net between 10.1 and 11.8 ppg. Damyean Dotson leads the way, but one of the unsung guys on which the Ducks rely is Arsalan Kazmei, who is close to averaging a double-double what with his 8.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Dotson hit for 21 points, E.J. Singler finished with 15 points and nine boards, and Dominic Artis chipped in with 11 points to help push Oregon past Oregon State the last time out. The Beavers were held to 41.7 percent field goal efficiency, with a mere six of their 20 3-point tries finding the bottom of the net. A 42-31 rebounding advantage coupled with an 18-10 edge in points from the charity stripe certainly helped the Ducks' cause.