Ducks seeking return to grace in Pac-12 clash with Buffs

Hoping to put the brakes on a two-game slide, the 19th-ranked Oregon Ducks play host to the Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday night in a pivotal Pac-12 Conference affair.

Colorado has won twice as many games as it has lost this season (14-7), but halfway through the conference slate the team has under-performed, sitting at 4-5 in league play entering this contest. The Buffs are coming off a 58-55 loss at Utah, which came on the heels of a three-game win streak, and they are just 2-6 in true road games, dropping four of their last five on enemy hardwood.

With a record of 18-2 overall and 7-0 in conference, Oregon was sitting pretty atop the Pac-12 standings, but consecutive road losses to Stanford (76-52) and California (58-54) in the last week now has the team a half game back of Arizona for first place. A little home cooking is just what the Ducks need, as they are 14-0 in Eugene this season, and have won 20 straight at Matthew Knight Arena dating back to last season. The school record for consecutive home wins is 23, set twice previously (1937-39, 2001-03).

Colorado leads the all-time series with Oregon, 5-3, and a win in this bout would be the Buffs' first in Eugene since Dec. 5, 1955. These same two teams will face each other in Boulder on March 7.

With regard to its status in the Pac-12, Colorado is as mediocre as you can get in terms of both offensive production (70.5 ppg) and defensive tenacity (65.0 ppg), ranking sixth in each category. The Buffaloes place in the upper half in field goal percentage (.460) and 3-point field goal shooting (.354), and they are one of the better rebounding teams in the league (38.4 rpg, +4.7 rebounding margin). CU presently has four players averaging double figures in the scoring column, led by Spencer Dinwiddie and his 14.7 ppg, although Askia Booker is right there with 14.1 ppg. Josh Scott (12.1 ppg) and Andre Roberson (10.8 ppg) round out the quartet, the latter also serving as the best rebounder in the Pac-12 in grabbing 11.6 rpg. Dinwiddie scored 18 points and Roberson logged his 34th career double-double by tallying 10 points and 12 boards, but those efforts went for naught as the Buffs dropped a three-point decision at Utah last weekend. Colorado committed 10 turnovers in the first half, 14 for the game, and shot just 40 percent from the field, which included a dismal 5-of-17 effort from long range.

Oregon lights up the scoreboard to the tune of 74.1 ppg, while its foes typically generate just 63.4 ppg, giving the team the second-best scoring margin in the Pac-12 (+10.7). The Ducks are hitting their field goals at a 46.0 percent clip, while allowing the opposition 40.6 percent success on their total shots. Oregon owns the league's top rebounding margin (+7.9), and also leads the way in steals (194, 8.8 spg). Balance is the key for the Ducks, as five players average double digits in scoring with Damyean Dotson's team- leading 11.4 ppg being only marginally better than Carlos Emory's 10.0 ppg. Arsalan Kazemi (9.4 rpg) ranks third in the conference in rebounding. Tony Woods was high man for Oregon both in scoring and on the glass in the recent loss at California, netting 14 points and coming up with eight rebounds, and Kazemi chipped in with 10 points and six boards. The Ducks missed 10 of their 12 3-point attempts in the game, and while the Golden Bears were just 35.6 percent efficient from the floor, which included a 4-of-17 showing from beyond the arc, they took advantage of 22 turnovers by the visitors.