Head coach Dana Altman is in his second year with the program and after finishing seventh in the Pac-10 a season ago, the Ducks were projected as the fifth best team in the Pac-12 for the 2011-12 season. That was before the loss of freshman Jabari Brown, a five-star shooting guard in the class of 2011, who came to Eugene with tremendous expectations and left the program after just two games.
The Ducks haven't seemed to skip a beat without Brown and are just one game back of conference leaders Stanford and California. They haven't been able to string together consecutive wins in conference play through five games, something they'll be looking to do against Arizona.
The loss of Brown has been made much easier with the addition of Devoe Joseph, who transferred to Oregon after playing three years and 76 games at Minnesota. Joseph, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound senior, is the team's leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, including an average of 16 points per game in Pac-12 play.
In a team-leading 33.1 minutes per game, Joseph has been remarkably efficient with his shots, hitting 43.3 percent of his three-point tries and 46.3 percent of his field goal attempts. He's also averaging 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game and in his first season has emerged as Oregon's best player and one of the best guards in the conference.
After a back-and-forth battle with Jared Cunningham on Thursday night, Kyle Fogg has another tough challenge on Saturday in trying to limit Joseph, who has the green light at all times and will be responsible for carrying the Ducks offensively.
Handling the ball for Oregon is 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard Garrett Sim, who is second on the team with 4.4 assists per contest. He's also the team's best shooter, hitting 47 percent of his three-point tries and 54.5 percent of his field goal attempts overall, both the best marks on the team.
Sim is Oregon's third leading scorer at 11.9 points per outing in 31.6 minutes per game, and while he may not be an explosive scorer, he is crafty in finding open and easy shots and has done very well in converting those attempts.
The team's second-leading scorer is small forward 6-foot-6, 215-pound junior E.J. Singler, who is averaging 12.6 points per game. The brother of former Duke star Kyle Singler, E.J. is also the leading rebounder for the Ducks with 5.2 boards per contest. He's also one of the best free-throw shooters in the Pac-12, hitting 89.1 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.
While Singler is averaging 14 points per game in conference play, he has struggled mightily against Arizona in the past. In four career games against the Wildcats, Singler averages just 3.8 points per contest. He'll have to reverse that trend and have a good game scoring wise if he's going to help Oregon pull off the road win on Saturday.
At power forward for Oregon is 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior Jeremy Jacob, the team's sixth leading scorer at 5.2 points per contest on 45.7 percent shooting. In 15.5 minutes per game, Jacob also averages 3.1 rebounds and is really not much of a threat to post big numbers in the game.
At center for Oregon is Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods, a 6-foot-11, 255-pound junior. One of the few true centers in the Pac-12, Woods is averaging seven points and just 3.8 rebounds per game. He doesn't get many looks offensively but, when he does, he's connected on the majority of his attempts as he's shooting 51.9 percent from the field.
Altman's best option off the bench is Louisiana Tech transfer Olu Ashaolu, who comes to Oregon after three years with the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward will be hoping for a better performance against Arizona this time around, as he scored just three points and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out in 23 minutes against the Wildcats during the 2009-10 season.
This year Ashaolu has made seven starts and is the fourth best scorer for the Ducks at 8.1 points per game. He ranks just behind Singler in rebounding with five boards in 20.5 minutes of action primarily off the bench.
Tyrone Nared returned against Arizona State after missing six games due to a left knee injury, and for the year the 6-foot-8, 220-pound senior is averaging 4.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19.8 minutes as a reserve.
Backup point guard Johnathan Loyd has made 11 starts this season, but even as a reserve he's one of the best facilitators in the conference with 5.5 assists per game. On top of that, in 22.6 minutes per contest, Loyd is putting up an average of 4.8 points and 2.1 rebounds. Despite standing at just 5-foot-8, Loyd is very good at getting to the basket and finishing his open looks or kicking out to open teammates.
Sean Miller called his team's win over Oregon State the best one of the season, and his team will need a similar effort to beat a very balanced Oregon team. It may not have the explosive scorers that OSU has, but Oregon is a solid team that thrives off the play of Joseph and Singler and will be in the hunt for the Pac-12 regular season crown all year long.