Looking to rebound after another last second loss on the road, Arizona comes home to McKale Center to face Oregon on Thursday evening (7:00 pm│ESPN2). Oregon is 16-4 on the season and 5-2 in conference play, tied for first with Washington. Oregon swept USC and UCLA last weekend at home.
Dillon Brooks vs Mark Tollefsen – Brooks leads Oregon in scoring and minutes at 16.2 points and 33.3 minutes. A strong small forward, Brooks is an aggressive offensive player and can score in a myriad of ways. Tollefsen has really played well since being inserted into the starting lineup after Allonzo Trier went down with a broken hand. He is 7-9 from three point range the last four games, good for a staggering 77%. Tollefsen is playing smart offensive basketball, swinging the ball and finding the open man and shooting when left open. He will need to play shrewd defense without fouling against Brooks.
Tyler Dorsey vs Gabe York – Dorsey is averaging 13.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game and is one of the leading candidates for Pac-12 freshmen of the year. He was the first commit in Arizona’s 2015 class, before the Wildcats got commitments from Justin Simon and Allonzo Trier, which subsequently led to his de-commitment. Dorsey will have a chip on his shoulder and will look forward to playing well against Arizona. York made clutch threes in the second half against Stanford and one in the waning moments against California. However, he lost control of the ball in the final possession before regaining it and putting up a floating layup at the buzzer. I would like to see Arizona and York start the offense earlier in last second situations, to allow for an offensive rebound or put back.
Dusan Ristic had an up and down weekend in the bay area. He was able to get nine rebounds against Stanford but got outhustled against California. Cameron Rooks got a couple offensive rebounds against Ristic that drew the ire of Coach Miller. Ristic is an integral part of this year’s team and skilled offensively but his effort and attention to detail on the defensive end still needs improvement.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright also had a subpar weekend against Stanford and California. In both games PJC was called on offensive fouls for pushing off the defender when he got stuck in the lane. I would like to see him keep his dribble alive ala Steve Nash. Both Ristic and PJC are sophomores and still getting comfortable in their roles. Even though they didn’t have the best weekend, look for both to bounce back at home against Oregon and Oregon State. When they play well, Arizona is much tougher to beat.
What To Look For
Turnovers. Arizona had 11 turnovers against California, but 6 of them occurred in the beginning of the second half and the momentum and tenor of the game changed.
Defensive Rebounding. Arizona gave up 12 offensive rebounds to California, which is a big number considering the Wildcats are number one nationally and get 80.7% of available defensive rebounds. Against California, Arizona grabbed 64.5%. The Golden Bears players simply played harder, and a couple of those offensive rebounds led to Jordan Matthews three pointers.
Defense. Arizona threw in some zone defense against California, but gave up too many corner threes to Jordan Matthews and Jabari Bird. Jaylen Brown was able to continually penetrate and get fouled or find open shooters.
Tempo. Oregon will play at a much faster pace than Stanford and California; expect an up and down game with lots of three pointers being taken.
Much like the Washington Huskies game two weeks ago, the Oregon Ducks are a talented offensive and defensive team with long and athletic players. Oregon will be looking to get a statement road victory and snap Arizona’s 49 game home winning streak and show they’re the team to beat in conference this year. Arizona will need to play a much better all-around game while continuing to hold court at home. Five out of the next seven games for Arizona will be at McKale Center, staying undefeated at home will put Arizona back on top the Pac-12 race.