by: Griffin Bennett
As voted by you, this game is the most important one remaining on the Huskies schedule. Whether that be because the Huskies have struggled on the road in Oregon in the past or because it’s simply the next game on the schedule, it will be an exciting one to watch. Oregon still has Pac-12 title hopes at 7-4 and 4 out of their remaining 7 games at home.
The Ducks have lost two of their last three in crushing fashion. One to Oregon State after blowing a 6 point second half lead and at Utah late by one. Needless to say, this game will be viewed as a “must win” by the Ducks if they want a real chance at the title. It’s their shot to take down the conference leader on their home floor. Add in a little Duck/Husky rivalry and you have a recipe for a great match up.
Perhaps the biggest single surprise in the conference, Devoe Joseph has been the do-it-all player for the Ducks this season. He leads his team in points (15.8), steals (1.5), and 3-point shooting (45.2%). He has been the catalyst for the Ducks this season after the loss of freshman Jabari Brown. Tony Wroten, the Huskies most effective perimeter defender, will likely have the distinction of guarding Joseph.
Next to Joseph in the back court is point guard Garrett Sim. He’s a solid player who averages 11.7 ppg and plays big minutes for the Ducks. He’s not an All-Conference type of player but you can’t take your eye off of him, either. Another solid shooter, Sim is right behind Joseph at 45%. Backing them up are the 5’8 Johnathan Loyd and the Mill Creek freshman, Brett Kingma.
The front court for the Ducks is led by E.J. Singler, their 6’6 junior small forward. The dangerous shooter has actually taken a step back this season in his 3-point shooting (from 40% to 34%), but he’s scoring more at 13 ppg. Terrence Ross will most likely be on him for the entire game.
The bigger bodies in the Ducks’ lineup are Olu Ashaolu (8.3ppg, 4.9rpg), Tony Woods (6.7ppg, 3.8rpg), and Jeremy Jacob (4.7ppg, 3.3rpg). Ashaolu has done a great job and replacing Catron from last season and is a very dangerous and athletic presence in the post. He will be a big key for the Ducks if they want to succeed against a rebound-heavy Husky team.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Garrett Sim – 6’2 185lb
Devoe Joseph – 6’4 180lb
E.J. Singler – 6’6 215lb
Olu Ashaolu – 6’7 220lb
Jeremy Jacob – 6’8 230lb
Abdul Gaddy – 6’3 185lb
Tony Wroten – 6’5 205lb
Terrence Ross – 6’6 195lb
Desmond Simmons – 6’7 220lb
Aziz N’Diaye 7’0 260lb
Keys to the Game:
- 3-Point Shooting – The Huskies don’t depend on the the three as much as a the Ducks but I will be as bold to say that the team that has better night shooting from three will win this game. The Ducks are statistically the better shooting team but the Huskies are the second best in the Pac-12 at opponents 3Pt%. The Huskies will need to use their length on the perimeter and limit their mental mistakes to keep Oregon from getting easy looks.
- Offensive Rebounds – Washington and Oregon are the the two best teams in the conference in O-Rebounding percentage, respectively. Boxing out on defense and crashing the boards at offense to limit/create second chance opportunities could be the difference in the game.
- Free Throws – This category heavily favors the Ducks as they are shooting 72.5% as a team compared to the Huskies’ 60.8%. Wroten has seen vast improvement as of late, however, which is a good sign considering he takes the most of any Husky.
This one is going to be close. The Ducks have beaten the Huskies once in each of the last two years and I believe that this Ducks squad may be the best one of the three. The Huskies’ 76-60 win over the Ducks on New Year’s Eve seems like ages ago and the Ducks are 6-3 overall since then. To let you know how close this game could be, kenpom.com’s prediction gives Oregon a 51% chance to win the game with a final score prediction of 75-74, Ducks.
This game will be a great benchmark to see where this Husky team is and if it’s ready for the final stretch of a championship run. It’s time to prove the doubters wrong and show that this team is trending up, not down.
For some reason, I think the Huskies can feel the pressure heading into this game. If there’s one thing that the Huskies have done this year, its respond well to pressure. It has been the “letdown” games that they have struggled with. Terrence Ross is back in his home state, maybe for the last time, and he will lead this team to victory in an intense second half. Bow Down. Huskies 79, Ducks 76.