Corvallis, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - The seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats close out a two-game set in the Pacific Northwest on Sunday evening, as they take on the Oregon State Beavers in Pac-12 action at the Gill Coliseum.
Sean Miller's Wildcats opened the 2014-15 campaign with 12 straight victories before closing out non-conference play with a 71-67 setback at UNLV. The team has gotten back to its winning ways in Pac-12 play however, routing both Arizona State (73-49) and most recently, Oregon (80-62).
Wayne Tinkle's Beavers are a solid 10-4 on the year. The team has won two of its last three games and has opened up league play at 1-1. Oregon State dropped a 71-59 decision to rival Oregon to get the Pac-12 slate underway, but did knock off Arizona State on Thursday, 55-47.
This marks the 79th all-time meeting in this series. The Wildcats hold a 58-20 series advantage, including a 22-14 edge in Corvallis. Arizona has won the last seven meetings with Oregon State.
The Wildcats have shown very few weaknesses this season, as their +16.7 scoring margin would suggest. Arizona is shooting an even 50 percent from the floor overall, leading to 76.3 ppg, while also showing a great affinity for defensive play. Opponents are netting just 59.7 ppg and being held to a .388 effort from the floor. The team also lives comfortably in terms of rebounding (+7.3) and turnover (+2.7) margins. Freshman Stanley Johnson has made an immediate impact in Tucson and tops the team in both scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). Brandon Ashley (11.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Rondae Hollis- Jefferson (11.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) provide more than enough frontcourt depth. Gabe York (9.2 ppg) and T.J. McConnell (8.5 ppg, 5.9 apg) are the leaders in the backcourt.
Arizona earned its first-ever win at Matthew Knight Arena by shooting an efficient .482 from the floor and dominating play on the glass, outrebounding the Ducks, 40-27. A quiet contributor in terms of scoring this season, McConnell erupted for a season-high 21 points in the win. The other four starters also notched double figures in the balanced attack for Arizona, as Johnson finished with 14 points, followed by Hollis-Jefferson (13 pts), center Kaleb Tarczewski (11 pts) and Ashley (10 pts). The 7-foot Tarczewski completed a double-double with 10 boards.
It wasn't the prettiest of games on Thursday at Gill Coliseum, as both Oregon State and Arizona State struggled offensively. The Beavers shot just 39 percent from the floor against ASU's 39.5 percent. The game was decided at the free-throw line, where the Beavers outscored the Sun Devils, 20-9. Malcolm Duvivier led all scorers with 15 points, fueled by a 10-of-11 effort from the charity stripe. Gary Payton II added 12 points to the cause, while Victor Robbins came off the bench to tally 10.
Defense is the name of the game in Corvallis this season, as the Beavers are limiting foes to just 56.9 ppg. Opponents are shooting under 40 percent from the floor (.367), which includes a mere .287 from behind the arc. Offensively, OSU is netting a modest 66.5 ppg, but there is some depth, with four players currently averaging double figures. Payton represents the top threat on the roster with 12.4 ppg. The 6-3 guard is also tops on the team in rebounding (8.1 rpg) and steals (41). Robbins hasn't started a single game, but is tied with Langston Morris-Walker with 10.5 ppg apiece. Olaf Schaftenaar rounds out the quartet with 10.3 ppg.