Scouting Report: Oregon

The Wildcats not only want to start the Pac-10 season off with a win, but want a little revenge. Last year Oregon not only swept the Wildcats, but did so with two one-sided blowouts. Both teams are playing very well, but the Wildcats may be a bit short handed if Luke Walton can't go.

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No. 4 Arizona (7-1, 0-0) at No. 9 Oregon (9-1, 0-0)
Location: McArthur Court (9,087), Eugene, Ore.
Date: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2003
Time: 9 p.m. PST
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: KWBA Tucson 58 (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

LAST TIME OUT: Arizona beat Boston University 85-71 to win the Fiesta Bowl Classic. Oregon crushed UC Riverside 106-67.

LAST MEETING: Oregon beat the Wildcats 90-80 at McKale to sweep the season series.

SEASON TO DATE: Oregon has been on a roll. After dropping a game to Cincinnati, the Ducks have won three straight by an average of 30.3. Oregon is undefeated at home at the always tough McArthur Court, going 7-0.

BACKCOURT: The big news is that Will Bynum has apparently not made the trip and his status with the team is unknown. Expect to see Chris Rodgers log even more minutes for the Cats.

This is a battle between the premier point guards in the Pac-10 and two of the best in the nation. So far in the series, Oregon's Luke Ridnour has had the upper hand. The junior is 3-1 against the Cats and has been instrumental in the victories. In their two wins last season, Ridnour averaged 20.5 ppg and 8.0 apg.

Ridnour is off to a great start this season. He leads the Ducks in scoring (19.1 ppg) and assist (6.7 apg). He's the key to the Duck offense and is a good defender as well. Throughout his career he's been a good outside shooter but this year he has struggled a bit behind the arc, shooting just 33.3% from long range.

Starting alongside Ridnour is junior James Davis. Davis has been solid this season, averaging 11.2 ppg. He's been terrific from the outside, knocking down 42.5% of his three-pointers. Junior Andre Joseph gives the Ducks a solid contributor off the bench with his 8.4 ppg. Brandon Lincoln has been effective when he has played, but hasn't been used yet in key moments. He saw garbage time against Cincy and did not get in the game against Minnesota.

Jason Gardner has been in a shooting slump but has been great at running the offense and dishing the rock. He's leading the team in assists and has been terrific at taking care of the ball. In the past, Ridnour has given him a lot of trouble on both ends of the floor. More than likely Gardner will defend Davis allowing Salim Stoudamire and Rodgers to defend Ridnour.

Stoudamire appears to be healthy and has been playing great the past few games. His shot is coming around and his defense is as solid as ever.

With Bynum not making the trip and Hassan Adams probably getting most of his minutes at the three, Chris Rodgers should continue to log serious minutes. Rodgers has been great on defense and is getting a better grasp of the offense.

FRONTCOURT: The battle between Luke Jackson and Luke Walton probably won't transpire. Walton looks doubtful for the game, so Jackson will be matched up with true freshmen Adams and Andre Iguodala. The pair are more athletic than anyone Arizona had a year ago and will provide a stiffer test for Jackson than the smaller Arizona guards did last season.

Jackson has been amazing this year. The junior is second in scoring (17.1) and assists (4.4) and leads the team in rebounding (7.2). He's a terrific outside shooter who can also put the ball on the floor and score on the inside.

Ian Crossewhite and Robert Johnson get the call on the inside and can provide match-up problems for the Cats, but conversely, the Cats pose match-up problems for the two Ducks. Crossewhite is more of a finesse player than the departed Chris Christofferson. He's also a better scorer than Christofferson, but isn't the presence on the boards the senior was. Johnson is a banger who is aggressive on the glass and is effective scoring on the inside. Channing Frye and Rick Anderson aren't as strong as the Oregon pair, but are far more athletic. Both will try to take the Duck players away from the post in an attempt to limit their rebounding and to exploit their outside shooting ability.

Brian Helquist is the first option off the bench while Jay Anderson and Matt Short could also see minutes there. For Arizona expect to see Isaiah Fox and Dennis Latimore log a lot of minutes to give the Cats a more physical presence in the post.

OUTLOOK: This should be a great one. Both teams are playing very well and like to put points on the board. In the end it could come down to which point guards plays better. If Gardner can get hot and find his stroke early, the Cats have a great shot. If he struggles, the Cats could be in trouble. Without Walton and at McArthur this could be a tough one. Expect this one to be settled in the final moments.

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