Oregon Preview

After a rough weekend in Washington, the Arizona State Sun Devils (6-9, 0-4) return home to take on the Oregon Ducks (14-1, 2-1) on Thursday in hopes of picking up their first Pac-10 win of the year. The Ducks have burst onto the national scene this season and cemented their status as a team to beat in the Pac-10 in 2007 with a win over previously unbeaten and top-ranked UCLA, 68-66 in Eugene.

This was a season in which Oregon head coach Ernie Kent would be on the hot seat after he failed to land Oregon's top high school recruits and he didn't lead the Ducks to the tournament often enough. He was more or less considered gone at season's end unless the team turned into a real contender, which is exactly what has happened. Senior G Aaron Brooks led the Ducks to victory against UCLA with 25 points and the game-winning jumper. The Ducks have befuddled opponents with their speed and endurance as they usually start 4 guards and run the entire game.

Arizona State is coming off a tough weekend with a pair of losses to the Washington schools. The Sun Devils had trouble scoring in both games with the exception of sophomore C Jeff Pendergraph, who had 34 points in the 2 games combined while shooting 77% from the floor.

Head Coach Ernie Kent (268-193 career record, 82-83 Pac-10)

Projected Starters
G – Aaron Brooks – (18.1 PPG, 5.0 APG)
G – Bryce Taylor – (15.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
G – Chamberlain Oguchi – (9.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
G – Tajuan Porter – (14.0 PPG, 44 3PT%)
F – Maarty Leunen – (12.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Malik Hairston
F – Churchill Odia
F – Adam Zahn
F – Joevan Catron

Overview

Absolutely no one expected the Oregon Ducks to be currently ranked 14th in the country with a win over previously perfect UCLA. With a new guard oriented philosophy, the Ducks have used their speed to beat bigger opponents. Brooks and Taylor have been the biggest reasons for success as Oregon has done almost all of their damage without a key piece, Malik Hairston. The junior has missed 10 games due to various injuries, but is expected to play against ASU. The diminutive freshman Porter has slowed a bit recently but he was the Ducks leading scorer for the first month of the season and his motor and long range shooting have been huge. Leunen, a senior, has been the Ducks' lone inside presence and he has been magnificent averaging a double-double. The only starter that is not overly exceeding expectations is Oguchi. Oguchi is a dangerous shooter but has proven to be streaky this season and when Hairston returns to full health, he will likely be moved to the bench.

Coming off the bench for Oregon will be big men and solid defenders. Senior Adam Zahn and sophomore Churchill Odia will often spell Leunen or one of the guards to give the Ducks a bigger lineup. Freshman Joevan Catron has been a guy who picks up more minutes each and every game and he is an athletic forward that creates match-up problems.

Guards

Seeing how much Oregon has at this position, the Sun Devils are in trouble. The Ducks start four guards and all of them are extremely talented. They're excellent shooters, fast as lightning, they pass well, and are solid defenders. The Sun Devils freshmen trio of Derek Glasser, Christian Polk, and Jerren Shipp, along with junior Antwi Atuahene will have to be just about flawless if they want to enjoy any success against the Oregon guards.

Huge Edge – Oregon

Forwards

It will be interesting to see how Coach Sendek plays this one. Seniors Serge Angounou and Allen Morill are not athletic enough to run with Oregon's smaller lineup but on offense, they could manhandle the smaller Ducks.

Slight Edge – Arizona State

Centers

Marty Leunen has been the only big man for the Ducks and he is doing a fantastic job. The Sun Devils will counter with Pendergraph and it will be important for Pendergraph to continue shooting well but he has to stay out of foul trouble to be a factor.

Edge – Push

Final Score – Oregon 81 Arizona State 66


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