If you're still wondering just how good these Ducks are, tonight will prove a worthy test.
With a nearly packed house (2500 tickets unsold as of 10am this morning), a national audience (ESPN2), and a chance to gain national ranking, this game has the potential to begin as a pressure-cooker and, with an upset, end as a major confidence-booster.
"I don’t really know what people think about us," Dana Altman said Tuesday in his Pac-12 coaches conference call "I think our team is making progress ... how good we are remains to be seen, like a lot of teams...We’ll definitely figure out a lot more this week""
Knocking off the #4 Wildcats in the 70th meeting between the two will significantly alter the road map for the Ducks; an early tip off at 6 pm means voters in the national polls will likely be watching.
“It makes you more motivated,” Arsalan Kazemi said Tuesday, “We had a chance one time (to be ranked) but we let it slip against UTEP,”
If this is their chance, what is the Wildcat weakness to expose? With a sometimes porous three-point defense, shooting well from beyond the arc will be key. The Cats allowed a combined 17 three-pointers against Utah and Colorado. And winning three games by three points or less may have the Wildcats a little shaken in the confidence department. Or... perhaps they will come in even more motivated to prove worthy of unbeaten status.
EJ Singler will have his hands full with Solomon Hill, who led Arizona to a pair of wins last week by averaging 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the field, 83.3 percent (5-of-6) from three-point range and 90.0 percent (9-of-10) from the line.
A key player the Ducks must stop is Kevin Parrom. In the past four games he's averaged 12.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. In that span, the 6-foot-6 swingman has connected on 58.8 percent of his field goal attempts (20-of-34), including 46.7 percent (7-of-15) from three-point range.
As for Damyean Dotson, who leads the team with 11.8 points-per-game, how he performs in the spotlight will be a telling sign of his true progression in a seemingly breakout freshman campaign.
But playing at home can't hurt. The Ducks are 27-3 in games played at Matt Knight.
Oregon averages 77.5 points per game, shoots 46.7 percent from the floor (388-of-831), 31.5 percent (78-of-248) from three-point range and 73.6 percent (231-of-314) from the line.
Opponents average 60.8 points, are out-rebounded by 10.6 per game and shoot 38.4 percent from the floor (304-of-792).
Individually, five Oregon players average in double figures, led by Damyean Dotson's 11.8 ppg figure. Arsalan Kazemi leads the Ducks in rebounding at 9.8 rebounds per game.
For those of you wondering when Arik Armstead will see some minutes, it won't be this weekend. He began practice Monday, but coming in mid-season after a demanding football schedule means getting in the rotation will be a work-in-progress.
Arizona's three freshmen inside players - Brandon Ashley (13), Kaleb Tarczewski (12) and Grant Jerrett (9) - have combined for 34 blocked shots and the trio ranks first, second and third on the squad in that category.
Through 14 games, the Wildcat defense is allowing an average of 60.7 points per game.
Arizona out-rebounded both Colorado (44-33) and Utah (38-27) by +11 margins and have out-rebounded 11 of 14 opponents to date this season. Interestingly, 10 of those 11 positive rebounding efforts this year have been by 10 or more.
Through 14 games, Arizona is averaging 14.0 turnovers per game, but the Cats have sharpened that up in its last three, averaging just 10.0 turnovers in the wins over San Diego State, Colorado and Utah.