Oregon (4-1) vs. Duke (5-0)
Portland, Ore. -- The Rose Garden
TV: Fox Sports Net 4:00 PM EST
MEET THE DUCKS
Head Coach: Dana Altman (1st Season)
Record at Oregon: 4-1
Record v. Duke: 0-0
?22 Teondre Williams (6-4, 218 Jr.) – 9.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg
25 E.J. Singler (6-6, 210, So.) – 11.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg
34 Joevan Catron (6-6, 245, Sr.) – 19.0 ppg, 6.0 apg
3 Garrett Sim (6-1, 181, So.) – 7.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg
11 Malcolm Armstead (6-0, 1955, Jr.) – 7.8 ppg, 4.4 apg
55 Jay-R Stowbridge (5-11, 180, So.) – 7.6 ppg, 3.8 apg
31 Tyrone Nared (6-8, 210, So.) – 6.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
10 Johnathan Loyd (5-8, 160, Fr.) - 4.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg
Series History: This will be the first ever meeting between the Ducks and the Blue Devils. Duke, however, holds a 25-16 all time advantage in the cumulative series against Pac 10 opponents including the National Championship victory over Arizona in 2001.
Quote To Note: "They're a good basketball team, they're great on defense. They're big and strong. It'll be a big challenge, we want to go up there and compete and play the best we can on Saturday. We try not to talk about winning and losing, just things we can improve on. Duke beats teams badly because they have such a good defense." - Oregon Coach Dana Altman on facing Duke.
"I'm sure E.J. is excited. It's good for his family, one son is playing for the defending national championship team and the other plays for the home state team. I spent time with Kyle (Singler) this summer; he's a great young man. E.J. is a great guy as well. I'll just tell E.J. to take a deep breath and fight his tale off against Kyle. Kyle beats him on size and height, so he has to get low and box him out well." - Altman on the Singler family match-up
Season To Date: The Ducks began a year of uncertainty with three consecutive victories over North Dakota State, Denver, and UC Santa Barbara. The UCB victory went down to the wire with UCSB inbounding the ball under the Duck basket with just under three seconds to go and trailing 71-70. After a loss to San Jose State, Oregon rebounded with a 23 point victory over Texas Southern in which an 18-2 spurt turned a game locked at 23 into a 41-25 advantage with 16:00 remaining in the game.
Unexpected Rebuilding Project: The Ducks fired former head coach Ernie Kent after last season and began searching for a replacement. After eventually finding Altman, the Ducks were thinking the potential upgrade in Xs and Os would translate into a talented roster producing more wins. Instead the incoming head coach was left with just six scholarship players after losing four sophomores including one time Duke prospect Jamil Wilson. Another former recruit who had minor Duke interest during the process, 6-10 center Michael Dunigan, left the program to sign with a professional team in Israel.
No Redwoods In the Pacific Northwest: Losing five players not only reduced the size of the roster in terms of able bodies, it reduced the size of the roster in terms of height. The Ducks are playing the year with no player in the starting lineup standing taller than 6'6 and just one player in the rotation 6'7 or taller. All told the Ducks have a roster of 14 players. Nine are guards. Four are considered forwards. One is a center who does stand 6'10, but isn't ready for the level of competition just yet.
The Altman Era Coach Altman led Creighton to 13 consecutive postseason appearances, a stretch of 11 straight seasons with 20-plus wins, all while producing 10 or more league victories in each of the last 14 seasons. Those three feats have gone unmatched in the 103 years of the Missouri Valley Conference. Concerns of the depth and overall talent level are certainly real, but Altman has dealt with such issues before and has still been on a number of post season awards lists. He was a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award and was named the NABC District 12 and USBWA District VI Coach of the Year following the 2002-03 campaign.
Who To Watch: At just 6-6, Oregon's default big man is Joevan Catron who was supposed to be graduated by now, but returns after being granted a medical redshirt a season ago after missing all but four contests a year ago thanks to a back injury. Two years ago Catron led the team in rebounds and assists. At 245 pounds, Catron is a strong player who boxes out and establishes position well. Offensively he understands footwork and can get larger defenders into foul trouble should they rely solely on their height to block or alter his shots. To date it's worked as he's the team's leading shot blocker and rebounder while shooting a team high 62 percent from the field.
Opponents scouting the Ducks should also be wary of Singler. The other one. Kyle's little brother, E.J. is not as big, but has the same fundamental-centric style. For the season he's averaging 11.6 points per game and has chipped in on the boards with 5.2 per night. Where he's exceeded his brother's production thus far is on the perimeter. E.J. is shooting 55 percent from down town, though he's taken just 11 shots - most of them during his team's five point victory over North Dakota State when he logged season highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes of action.
Duke Noteables: The Blue Devils will be looking to move to 6-0 on the season against Oregon, but there are some additional notes worth following:
- Duke has won 27 consecutive games in November, dating back to a 73-62 loss to Marquette in the championship game of the 2006 CBE Classic. The Blue Devils are 107-10 all-time in the month of November under Coach K.
- Freshman point guard Kyrie Irving was named the CBE Classic Tournament MVP after recording 17 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in the championship game. The last Duke freshman to receive MVP honors in an in-season tournament was Kyle Singler in the 2007 Maui Invitational. Irving was joined on the all-tournament team by sophomore Mason Plumlee, who had 10 points and five rebounds on Tuesday and 25 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots in the semifinal win over Marquette.
- Against Kansas State, five Blue Devils scored in double figures, the third this season Duke has had at least five players score 10 points in a game. Entering the contest, six players were averaging over 10 points a game. Duke has had five different players lead the team in scoring in games this season with Irving becoming the fifth against Kansas State.
- Senior Nolan Smith extending his ACC-leading streak of double figure scoring games to 16 with his 17 points against the Wildcats. He has scored 10 or more points in 29 of the last 30 games for the Blue Devils.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
After running through the CBE Classic and dismantling a top five opponent, the Blue Devils have a change of pace facing them in the Ducks. Much like the earlier season match-ups prior to traveling to Kansas City the Ducks simply don't have the fire power, experience, size, or overall talent to beat Duke. Still, it's a BCS opponent with a tremendous coach on the sidelines. It's also a chance for Kyle Singler to return home to Oregon and play as a senior in front of his friends and family. Such and environment may be the perfect setting for the elder Singler to have a breakout game for the first time this season. The Ducks also provide a great opponent for Mason and Miles Plumlee to continue the strides made in the CBE Classic as Duke continues to look to the Indiana natives for consistent offense and rebounding. Look for Duke to have this game in hand before intermission and pull away in the second half.
Duke - 94
Oregon - 65