Arizona-Oregon St. Preview
Arizona opened this trip by slowing down the Pac-12’s most prolific offense, and now it should be easier versus the team averaging the fewest points.
Oregon State, however, is off to its best home start in 16 years as it tries to end a seven-game slide to the seventh-ranked Wildcats on Sunday night.
Arizona (14-1, 2-0) cruised to an 80-62 rout of Oregon on Thursday. The Ducks, averaging a conference-high 77.7 points, were held to their lowest total.
The Wildcats were led by T.J. McConnell’s season-high 21 points. McConnell is known more for his passing and ballhandling since he averages 5.9 assists with a 3.14 assist-to-turnover ratio to rank among the Pac-12’s best in those departments.
"He’s capable," coach Sean Miller said. "He’s got that personality that’s so unselfish that sometimes he can be tentative with his own shot but we’re a better team when he’s aggressive."
While the Ducks prefer a fast tempo, the Beavers (10-4, 1-1) like to slow it down and average 66.5 points along with the fewest possessions in the conference. They are yielding 56.9 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot 36.7 percent to rank among the Pac-12 leaders.
"That’s how we have to play," first-year coach Wayne Tinkle said. "We’re short in bench so we’ve got to play our tempo. It’s not always pretty, but that’s what we have to do to get ourselves a chance to win.
Oregon State improved to 9-0 at home with Thursday’s 55-47 win over Arizona State for its best start there since the 1998-99 team began 10-0.
”Our guys are kind of developing a little pride here at home,” Tinkle said. ”They don’t worry about what’s across (the opponents’) chest. We play because of the name on our chest. We’ll give it our best and see what we’ve got.”
Malcolm Duvivier had 15 points and Gary Payton II added 12 as the Beavers overcame 39.0 percent shooting.
One major issue for Oregon State is that it is surrendering a conference-high 22.4 free throws per game. Arizona gets to the line more than nearly any team in the country with 27.2 attempts per game.
The Wildcats only shoot 66.9 percent on free throws, but made 24 of 30 attempts against the Ducks. Freshman Stanley Johnson was 8 of 10.
"We were being aggressive on offense and I think whenever that happens, we’re going to get to the line and we’ve been emphasizing it and working on it in practice, going to the line and making free throws," center Kaleb Tarczewski said.
Arizona swept both 2013-14 meetings from Oregon State, winning the last one 74-69 on the road March 5. The Wildcats have split their last four visits to Gill Coliseum, and four of the last five meetings there have been decided by five or fewer points.
These teams have the conference’s most steals and force the most turnovers. Oregon State averages 8.3 steals and forces an average of 15.4 turnovers while Arizona is at 8.1 and 15.0, respectively.