Oregon Preview

It's been a forgettable season but as the 2010-2011 campaign winds down, the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-18, 2-14) will look to give the fans a few more things to cheer about before turning out the lights in Wells Fargo Arena and that starts with hosting the Oregon Ducks (14-14, 7-9) on Thursday night.

As it turns out, Los Angeles is not a place where dreams can come true unless you dream of getting swept in miserable fashion by UCLA and USC. In the opener, ASU jumped out to a 12-point lead against UCLA only to see the Bruins turn on the jets and win by 20 points. No Sun Devil scored in double digits; a first in the Herb Sendek era. At USC, the Devils turned in an uninspired effort as they were never in the game and lost 62-46.

Oregon didn't even have to leave home to have a similar weekend as ASU as they were walloped at home by Cal and Stanford. Against Cal, the Ducks went into the half up 10 only to be outscored by 21 in the second half. Four starters scored in double digits led by Tyrone Nared's 16 points. Facing Stanford, the Ducks were beaten soundly for 40 minutes as Malcolm Armstead's 22 points were the only reason for excitement.

Head Coach: Dana Altman vs. Herb Sendek

Projected Starters:

Malcolm Armstead (8.0 PPG, 4.1 APG) vs. Jamelle McMillan (6.8 PPG, 3.7 APG)

Garrett Sim (7.7 PPG, 2.0 APG) vs. Ty Abbott (12.1 PPG, 38% 3PT)

E.J. Singler (11.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG) vs. Trent Lockett (13.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG)

Tyrone Nared (5.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (9.6 PPG, 39% 3PT)

Joevan Catron (15.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG) vs. Kyle Cain (5.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG)

Backcourt

The Ducks are a heavily guard laden squad and their speed is their best weapon. Armstead and Sim are dual point guards in this system while Jay-R Stowbridge, Teondre Williams, and Johnathan Loyd are all capable wings off the bench. Armstead and Sim are good distributors and see the floor well while Stowbridge is the most dynamic scorer of the bunch with Williams being the best outside shooter on the team.

The usual suspects will be out there for the Devils as Jamelle McMillan will run the point with Ty Abbott and Trent Lockett alongside him. Coming off the bench will be Keala King, Corey Hawkins and Carrick Felix. It will be interesting to see how King's role will be defined in the last few games as his penetration and toughness are both areas where ASU lacks and Oregon could be exposed.

Edge – ASU

Frontcourt

The addition of Tyrone Nared to the rotation is starting to pay dividends as they needed to get more physical in the paint. Catron and Singler are solid players who can punish soft interiors like the Sun Devils have. Jeremy Jacob has played sparingly in recent weeks but he is the first post player off the bench for the Ducks.

Rihards Kuksiks and Chanse Creekmur are similar players that are starting to split time in the swing/4 position with good spot-up shooting while Kyle Cain, Ruslan Pateev and Jordan Bachynski are the options at the 5 spot. The Devils need to make their presence felt in the frontcourt on both ends because the guard play can go either way but if the points in the paint are heavily in favor of the Ducks, its trouble.

Edge – Oregon

X-Factor

Pride. The Devils have clinched last place and while they are still invited to the Pac-10 Tournament no matter what happens, this last homestand is a big deal for the seniors, for the fans and for the rest of the Pac-10 to be on notice that ASU won't roll over in the Tournament.

Who Will Win and Why

It's going to be a battle because although the Devils actually beat the Ducks in the last meeting, Oregon has been a solid team since that meeting while ASU has fallen off the deep end. I think ASU wins this game because they have confidence against Oregon and the last two home games will mean a lot to the senior trio of McMillan, Abbott and Kuksiks.

Final Score – ASU 68 Oregon 65


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