Oregon Preview

Coming off a must win game against USC, the Arizona State Sun Devils (18-10, 8-8) have put themselves into an ideal position to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament as the head to face the Oregon Ducks (16-12, 7-9) on Thursday night at 6:30 pm MT.

After compiling only eight wins all of last season, Arizona State has had a remarkable turnaround this season and has been able to get eight wins in the tough Pac-10 alone. With a win on Thursday, ASU would secure a spot in the top half of the conference, this after being picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10's media's preseason poll.

In their first meeting of the season, ASU and Oregon played a tight game that the Sun Devils were able to pull away with, 62-54. After trailing for most of the game, ASU took a 50-49 lead with 2:36 left and never looked back. In his first ever Pac-10 contest, James Harden led the team with 20 points along with seven rebounds.

Jeff Pendergraph added 17 points and Derek Glasser had ten points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Oregon came out firing in the first half hitting 54.2% of their shots, but was not able to maintain it in the second half, shooting just 37.5%. The difference in the game was the three-point shooting, as Oregon was held to just 2-17 (11.8%) for the game. The Ducks were led by Malik Hairston with 14 points.

Head Coach - Ernie Kent

Projected Starters

PG – Tajuan Porter (13.3 PPG, 34% 3PT)
SG – Bryce Taylor (13.4 PPG, 40 3PT)
SF – Malik Hairston (16 PPG, 4.8 RPG)
PF – Joevan Catron (9.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
C – Maarty Leunen (15.7 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 53% 3PT)

Impact Reserves

G - Kamyron Brown
G - LeKendric Longmire
F – Frantz Dorsainvil

Overview

Oregon can and will shoot often from beyond the arc, as they lead the conference in three-point attempts and makes, along with points scored. Their 611 three-point attempts are 131 more then the league's second best. ASU will need to expand their zone to keep the Ducks' attempts to a minimum. As has been the case for most of the season, Oregon has a distinct size advantage over the Sun Devils. They will need to continue what they did to the USC big men and control Catron and Leunen from crashing the offensive boards. If Oregon can hit their threes, unlike when they visited Tempe, ASU could be in for a long night at The Pit.

Guards

Tajuan Porter and Bryce Taylor are the leading 3-point shooters on the Ducks and are not afraid to shoot it at anytime. Porter will fire the ball at will and can make it from any spot on the court. If these two get on a roll, they can exploit the Sun Devils' zone defense. Coming off the bench for Coach Kent is Kamyron Brown. He is not known for his scoring ability, but is leading the team in assists and will spark the offense. Derek Glasser and Jamelle McMillan will tandem as ASU's point guards. They have been very efficient with the ball in their hands all season and will need to continue this trend against a very athletic Oregon team. Ty Abbott continues to be streaky from the floor and will need to hit some early shots to quiet down the rowdy crowd and counter the barrage of threes from the hosts.

Edge – Oregon

Forwards

James Harden and Rihards Kuksiks have become a nice duo for Herb Sendek. The emergence of Kuksiks has given the Sun Devils another scoring threat from the outside and has taken pressure off of Harden. Malik Hairston has been Oregon's best defender all season, and will need to prove that reputation in order to stop Harden from putting up big numbers. Hairston is coming off a game where he went just 1-7 from the field and will be out to improve those numbers in his final home games as an Oregon Duck.

Edge – ASU

Centers

Maarty Leunen may be the most underappreciated player in the Pac-10 outside of Oregon. He has put up monster numbers on the season while leading his team in minutes, points, FG percentage, 3-point percentage, defensive rebounds and steals. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he will be a real force down low. Coming off an impressive game, Jeff Pendergraph will need to have a repeat performance. He was able to stay out of foul trouble, while dominating down low, causing USC to loose their big men to foul troubles. Getting him involved in the offense early in the game will greatly aid the mission of a road win in Eugene.

Edge – Even

Final Score – ASU 61 Oregon 60

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