Finding themselves at the top of the Pac-12 once again the No. 23 Oregon Ducks head to Beasley Coliseum for a league battle with the Washington State Cougars on Saturday.
A three-game losing streak last week had the Ducks reeling but with wins in their last two contests and a surprising loss by No. 9 Arizona, they now find themselves in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 (9-3). Oregon earned its 20th win of the season in a 65-52 victory on the road over Washington on Wednesday, marking the third straight season the Ducks have reached the 20-point plateau. Oregon will kick off a three-game homestand next against California.
Washington State has not been near the upper echelon of the Pac-12 this season. In fact the Cougars are currently in sole possession of last place in the conference after dropping a 67-66 decision to Oregon State on Wednesday. The Cougars have just two wins in 12 league battles and are 11-14 overall. The Cougars are off on the road in their next three games beginning against Arizona State on Wednesday.
When these teams met back on Jan. 23 at Matthew Knight Arena, Washington State put up a fight but eventually fell in a 68-61 decision. The win was the fourth straight and seventh in the last eight meetings for Oregon, which leads the all-time series, 161-123.
A balanced offensive attack and stingy defense led to Oregon's victory over Washington. The Ducks had four players in double figures and shot 49 percent from the field, while holding the Huskies to just 35 percent shooting. Damyean Dotson was the top scorer for the Ducks with 13 points.
Oregon is enjoying a sizable scoring margin this season (+10.3) by posting a healthy 72.6 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting. The Ducks allow just 62.3 points per game to foes on 40.4 percent shooting. Controlling the boards has been another strength as the Ducks lead the Pac-12 in rebounds (38.3 pg). Dotson (11.4 ppg) is the leading scorer on the team but had been struggling ever since backcourt running mate Dominic Artis (10.2 ppg) was sidelined on Jan. 24 with a foot injury. E.J. Singler (11.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.1 apg) does a little bit of everything, while Tony Woods (10.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg), Carlos Emory (10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Arsalan Kazemi (8.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg) anchor the team in the paint.
Washington State trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half against Oregon State but a 15-4 run in the final minutes had the Cougars trailing by just a single point, 64-63, with 1:14 remaining. However D.J. Shelton missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining as the rally came up short.
As an offensive entity Washington State has been the worst in the Pac-12. The Cougars are putting up the fewest points per game (63.7) in the league, while ranking among the bottom three teams in the Pac-12 in assists (11.9 pg) and field-goal percentage (.423). The Cougars are also last in the conference in rebounding (33.9 pg), although they have managed to limit teams to just 61.8 points per game. Brock Motum (18.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is one of the most consistent scorers in the conference as he has scored in double figures in every game this season and only once put in fewer than 14 points. Mike Ladd (11.4 ppg) and DaVonte Lacy (10.6 ppg) also have double-figure scoring ability.