Oregon Preview

Hopefully you aren't too hung over after the rousing Opening Ceremony in Vancouver last night to tune in to see the Arizona State Sun Devils (17-8,7-5) play host to the Oregon Ducks (12-11,4-7) at Wells Fargo Arena in a Saturday matinee.

Despite not having a single "quality" win this season, the Devils find themselves just a game off the top of the conference standings and completing a sweep of the Oregon schools is mandatory if they want to stay in the conversation. The sweep is only possible after the Devils beat Oregon State, 56-46, in a defensive slugfest on Thursday. Derek Glasser broke out of his slump with 16 points and Jerren Shipp (JERREN SHIPP!) scored 11 as well. The lone Beaver in double digits was Calvin Haynes with 15 points as OSU shot a painful 24% from the field.

The Ernie Kent hot seat travels through the Arizona desert for one last time? After a tough year last season that was blamed on youth and a deep Pac-10, the Ducks are struggling to find a good excuse for their follies in 2010. Coming in having lost 9 of 11, the Ducks were trounced in Tucson in their latest defeat to the Arizona Wildcats. The Ducks were outplayed in just about every facet of the game as only two players scored in double digits as Jeremy Jacob and Teondre Williams scored 10 points respectively.

Projected Starters

G – Malcolm Armstead – (11.1 PPG, 4.3 APG) vs. Derek Glasser (10.0 PPG, 5.0 APG)

G – Tajuan Porter – (11.6 PPG, 35% 3PT) vs. Jamelle McMillan (7.5 PPG, 40% 3PT)

G/F – Jamil Wilson – (4.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (11.8 PPG, 45% 3PT)

F – Jeremy Jacob – (6.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (12.4 PPG, 39% 3PT)

F – Michael Dunigan – (10.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG) vs. Eric Boateng (8.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG)

Backcourt

It seems like he's been at Oregon forever, but Tajuan Porter is still kicking. Of all of the sub-six foot stars in the Pac-10 (Isaiah Thomas, Nic Wise, Jerome Randle, etc), Porter is still the most capable of going off for 40 on any given night. With Porter slinging it up there, Malcolm Armstead could be forgotten but the newcomer's play has been incredible all season. Getting some playing time off the bench will be Teondre Williams and Garrett Sim.

It will be a major development going forward if Derek Glasser's slump truly is behind him. On a team that doesn't have a true go-to player, Glasser's outside shooting is crucial for ASU's success. Also helping is the return to health of Jamelle McMillan; the second PG in the lineup and a vocal leader. Tying it all together (see what I did there?) is Abbott, the most explosive offensive threat ASU has. Off the bench will be Trent Lockett and Demetrius Walker.

Edge – ASU

Backcourt

A bigger team than most in the Pac-10, the Ducks have mixed and matched all season long as Joevan Catron's absence has been a tough blow. The consistent cog is Dunigan, a solid big man with a bevy of skills that have NBA scouts excited. Next to him (lately) are Jeremy Jacob and Jamil Wilson. Another forward that will see some minutes is E.J. Singler.

The interior play of ASU this season has been consistently inconsistent but it's been nice to see some players starting to make real strides in their play. The regulars, Boateng and Kuksiks, are both having streaky seasons but having guys like Pateev and now Rohde stepping up in sluggish times is refreshment. It's also a joy to see Shipp playing well as his career winds down.

Edge – Even

X-Factor

Rihards Kuksiks. A lot of rumors swirling around his possible departure after the season to go play pro ball in Europe have overshadowed his recent slump. When a player relies on one primary weapon, that weapon needs to be successful for the player himself to be successful. For Rik, that weapon is his three-point shot. In their first meeting, the Devils trounced the Ducks behind Kuksiks' 25 points and 9-12 shooting. He hasn't scored more than 15 in a game since then.

Who Will Win and Why

It's been the ASU way for as long as I can remember; beat the teams you're supposed to beat and lose to the teams you're supposed to lose to. Every once in a while we shock someone or someone shocks us but that is more the exception and not the rule. This is no different. The Devils are supposed to beat the Ducks and they will. It won't be an offensive explosion by any means but the shots will fall and ASU will run away with the game in the second half.

Prediction

ASU 68 Oregon 53


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