Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The sixth-ranked Arizona Wildcats put a couple of win streaks on the line Friday night, as they welcome the Oregon State Beavers to the McKale Center for Pac-12 action.
Sean Miller's Wildcats made light work of Oregon on Wednesday night, cruising by the Ducks, 90-56. The victory was the fifth straight for Arizona overall and the 33rd straight at the McKale Center, the second-longest active homecourt winning streak in the nation. With the rout of the Ducks, the Wildcats moved to 19-2 on the season and sit atop the Pac-12 standings at 7-1.
Wayne Tinkle's Beavers are looking to salvage their current road trip to the desert. Oregon State dropped a 73-55 decision to Arizona State in Tempe on Wednesday, halting a three-game win streak. The loss to the Sun Devils leaves OSU at 14-6 overall and 5-3 in league play, good for fourth place in the standings.
Arizona holds a 58-21 advantage in the all-time series with Oregon State, but it is the Beavers seeking the regular-season sweep, after ending a seven-game losing streak to the Wildcats, with a stunning 58-56 upset in Corvallis back on Jan. 11.
Gary Payton II poured in a game-high 23 points, but it wasn't even remotely enough to keep the Beavers competitive, as they dropped an 18-point decision to the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday. Payton was joined in double figures by Malcolm Duvivier and Jarmal Reid, who finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively. The Beavers connected on a strong 49 percent of their shots, but managed just five total points from the rest of the roster in the loss.
The Beavers aren't really known for their offensive prowess this season, as they put up just 63.7 ppg on .442 shooting. However, the defensive effort has been a strength for the most part, as OSU limits foes to just 56.9 ppg on a mere .366 shooting that includes just a .283 mark from behind the arc. Payton is a do-it-all player that finds a way to contribute at both ends of the floor. Despite his size (6-3), the junior leads the Beavers in scoring (13.2 ppg), rebounding (8.2 rpg) and steals (58). The team is missing some scoring punch with a 10-game suspension levied on Victor Robbins (10.3 ppg), although Langston Morris-Walker (10.0 ppg), Duvuvier (9.6 ppg) and Olaf Schaftenaar (9.5 ppg) have tried to fill the void.
For the second time this season, Arizona humbled the Oregon Ducks. After rolling to an 80-62 victory in Eugene a couple of weeks ago, the Wildcats distanced themselves further from Oregon on Wednesday night, earning a 34- point win. Arizona put on an offensive clinic in the victory, shooting a scalding .593 from the floor overall, as six Wildcats finished in double figures in the balanced attack. Gabe York paced the team with 16 points. Brandon Ashley finished with 13, while Stanley Johnson (12 pts), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11 pts), Kaleb Tarczewski (11 pts) and T.J. McConnell (10 pts) joined the fun as well.
The Wildcats are starting to peak and that won't be good for the rest of the Pac-12. Arizona has shown very few weaknesses this season and enters this contest with an inflated +16.4 scoring margin as a result. The team is shooting .498 from the field en route to 75.7 ppg, while holding foes to a meager 59.3 ppg on .402 shooting. UA also lives comfortably in terms of rebounding (+7.4) and turnover (+3.1) margins. Johnson is one of the Pac-12's young stars. The freshman forward can score from all over the floor and leads the team in both scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). Frontcourt depth is a strength, with Ashley (11.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Hollis-Jefferson (10.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Tarczewski (8.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) all making sizable contributions. McConnell (9.0 ppg, 5.8 apg) and York (9.0 ppg) provide backcourt balance.