Date: Saturday, March 8, 2003
Time: 2 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: CBS (Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel)
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona struggled but beat Oregon State 72-60. Oregon was beaten by ASU 91-77 in Tempe.
LAST MEETING: Arizona beat the Ducks in Eugene 81-72 on January 2nd.
BACKCOURT: This is a battle between the premier point guards in the Pac-10 and two of the best in the nation. Luke Ridnour has been a Cat-killer during his career. He's beaten the Cats three times, including the sweep a year ago. In their two wins last season, Ridnour averaged 20.5 ppg and 8.0 apg.
The Ducks may be disapointing but Ridnour sure isn't. He leads the Ducks in scoring (19.8 ppg) and assists (6.5 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 from behind the arc, shooting just 38.4% from long range. Ridnour is very quick and has great anticipation. Starting alongside Ridnour is junior James Davis. Davis has been solid this season, averaging 10.3 ppg. He's been terrific from the outside, knocking down 43.5% of his three-pointers and actually has a better three-point percentage than he does from the floor overall. Junior Andre Joseph gives the Ducks a solid contributor off the bench with his 10.0 ppg. Brandon Lincoln has been effective when he has played, but hasn't been used yet in key moments. Jason Gardner has been playing very well for the Cats. His scoring is down but he's been a much better passer and floor general. This is his final game at McKale and you can bet he wants to go out in style.
Salim Stoudamire was in Lute Olson's doghouse against Oregon State and it allowed Hassan Adams to shine. The true freshman was particularly good on the defensive end and on the boards. Stoudamire, who is prone to moodiness, should be back in good graces and will see plenty of time. Chris Rodgers will get spot minutes due to his defense, although it must be noted he looked much better on the offensive end against Oregon State.
FRONTCOURT: Luke Jackson and Luke Walton are two of the most well-rounded forwards in the nation. They did not get to meet in the first game due to Walton's ankle injury, so this one should be interesting.
Jackson has been amazing this year. The junior is second in scoring (16.3) and assists (3.6) and leads the team in rebounding (6.3). 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. Frye is on a tear and you can bet the Cats will look to get him the ball.
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 get limited minutes as the Cats' first option is to slide Walton from the three to the post. Andre Iguodala and Adams will spell Walton on the wing.
OUTLOOK: This was supposed to be a battle of the two best teams in the Pac-10, but is now a game Oregon would love to win in an attempt to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble. It will be a tough task. Not only are the Ducks a poor road team, but Arizona is saying goodbye to three seniors who want to go out in style.
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