by John Chase
UW faces a hot Oregon team tonight after a shootout with the Cougars late last night. Oregon took it to UCLA and made them look the fool. E.J. Singler has been hot this tournament setting career highs in points both nights with 22 against ASU and 24 against UCLA. The difference in the UCLA game was shooting plain and simple. UO made 27 shots on 55 attempts while the Bruins made 19 on 55, including 1 less made 3 pointer. Both teams hit 17 free throws. Oregon enters tonight 16-16 on the year, finishing 7-11 in conference.
Oregon is not a big team by any means so it would not surprise me to see Aziz N’Diaye on the bench once more and Ross remaining in the starting line up. Oregon’s 9 man rotation includes 6 guards and 3 forwards with their biggest player coming in at 6-8. UW has the size advantage and needs to use it down low. Look for MBA to get the ball a lot.
Joevan Catron is the leading scorer for the Ducks on the year, but E.J. Singler has been trying to catch up lately. Catron is averaging 14.9 points and a team high 6.1 rebounds on the year. Catron is the man in the middle for the Ducks. At 6-6 he is a bit undersized for a Forward and especially so for a Center, but at 245lbs he has a lot of weight and muscle to throw around in the post.
Singler is second on the team in both points per game, 11.5, and rebounds, 5.8, but we all know his brother Kyle of Duke is much better. Singler is a big reason why Oregon has been so successful this tournament. He is a phenomenal free throw shooting, averaging 85.9% on the year. Singler is also shooting 40% beyond the arc with 44 makes on 110 attempts. Justin Holiday will likely guard Singler.
Malcolm Armstead is the other important Duck on the squad. Armstead is their star point guard who is averaging a team high 4.4 assists per outing and is 4th in scoring with 8.4 per game. The only major downside is his 2.7 turnover average.
With their team being undersized the Ducks understandably struggle on the glass, averaging around 33 per game as a team. They do, however, defend the glass pretty well, allowing their opponents only 35 boards a game. MBA and Holiday should both have strong showings tonight and hopefully Aziz can find some success off the bench or in the starting 5. If Oregon runs a zone, Aziz will likely be ineffective, but a man match could be equally dangerous for Aziz as well. Chances are that we will need to look elsewhere for our rebounding production than the Senegal native. He just isn’t quite ready.
Starting Line-Up Predictions
Malcolm Armstead 6-0 195lb G
Garrett Sims 6-1 181lb G
E.J. Singler 6-6 210lb F
Joevan Catron 6-6 245lb F
Tyrone Nared 6-8 210lb F
Isaiah Thomas 5-9 185lb G
C.J. Wilcox 6-5 190lb G
Terrence Ross 6-6 190lb F
Justin Holiday 6-6 185lb F
Matthew Bryan-Amaning 6-9 240lb F
Keys to the Game
Be big on the glass, easy as that. UW has the size and skill to dominate the boards and needs to do so to keep Oregon out of the game. MBA needs to harness I.T.’s energy and resolve last game and unleash it rebounding. Holiday and the rest of the perimeter players need to box their men out and get to the glass as well to aid MBA in the effort.
I failed to mention this in my last write up, but it is more important now than ever. The Cougars missed a lot of free throws, thankfully, so our misses didn’t hurt as bad as they could have. When a game is won or lost by 5 or less points, I can almost guarantee one team could have reverse their fortunes via their free throw shooting. UW is not a strong free throw shooting team and that needs to be changed sometime in the near future. It may be too late for this season, but Romar needs to add that to the list of things to work on in the off season. C.J. Wilcox is the best free throw shooter on the team. It is a thing of beauty.
Pound the Middle/Drive the Lane
It worked extremely well against WSU and it’ll work again tonight. I.T. and the wings need to slash and drive the middle all night long. This will either lead to a basket, a nice dish to MBA, or a kick out to the wings. In my opinion, WSU plays much better perimeter D than Oregon so we should have more open shots with the kick out if the defense is collapsing as expected on the drive. Let’s hope Wilcox and Ross haven’t gone cold overnight.
They brought the emotion last time out and they should be riding it into this game tonight. While the Huskies should be considered a lock for the NCAA at this point, there is no reason to quit now. They have a chance to defend their tournament title and another opportunity at Arizona should they survive USC’s onslaught. No better way to improve seeding than to beat the conference regular season title holding team and a one time top 10 team.
This is one of those dangerous games where an undersized and overlooked squad could come out and take it to the big dogs, but I don’t see it happening after last nights performance. UW got their scoring touch back and ended up with 89 on the night. Sure, WSU had 87, but Klay Thompson had 43 of those points and the dude was unreal from the floor. You take Klay Thompson and give him an above average night with 23 points like a normal player and its a 20 point blowout. The Huskies played strong D against the Cougars, it just couldn’t be helped that Klay was on fire. UW needs to avenge the embarrassing loss in Eugene that was in the middle of the slump that effectively cost them the title.
Final Score: UW-86 UO-76