Oregon seeks state of Arizona sweep vs. No. 17 Wildcats
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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Earlier in the week, Sean Miller said Oregon schools would head to the southwest to face No. 11 Arizona State and No. 17 Arizona and be very dangerous.
The Oregon Ducks showed just how lethal after beating No. 11 Arizona State 76-72 on Thursday night in Tempe, Ariz. Apparently, the Ducks needed some motivation to get their juices flowing. It came in the form of a loss to Oregon State a week before.
"It's the Oregon mentality. We were always the underdog and we fought through things every year I've been here," Roman Sorkin told the Oregonian after Oregon beat Arizona State. "I know we were good last year (en route to a Final Four), but we always felt this mentality and I guess getting our (butt) kicked was like a wakeup call for us."
Miller saw it coming given Oregon's potential. Miller went on to say that Oregon has "one of the best coaches in the country" in Dana Altman and a "confidence about them."
"They are only going to get better as time goes on," Miller said.
Will that time be a noon local time start Saturday when Oregon faces Arizona in McKale Center?
Miller said he's expecting the young Ducks (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) to press and play a zone.
"Tonight was a great test for us to get ready for that game," Miller said after beating Oregon State in a slow-down, defeat-the-zone game.
Arizona was able to eventually crack the code that was Oregon State's matchup zone. It did, however, create fits for the Wildcats (13-4, 3-1). Arizona had a season-low 21 points in the first half, but scored 41 in the second half, eventually pulling away with the help of its defense.
"You've gotta be patient but not tentative," said the Wildcats' Allonzo Trier about attacking the zone. He knows of what he speaks as he had 21 points, 15 in the second half.
He added that Arizona is "doing the right things" to get better at the zone, something it has apparently been doing since well before the season.
That, along with Arizona's talent, has Altman concerned.
"Just their talent level. The boards are going to be critical, we're going to have to rebound with them," said Altman when asked about concerns with Arizona. "Sean does such a good job. It's going to be really tough. They're a really good team, really talented, that place is always tough. It will be fun. It's always a great atmosphere there so looking forward to the challenge."
It's not like winning is a secret to the Ducks. Oregon knocked off Arizona two years ago -- the last time the two teams met in Tucson -- ending Arizona's then nation's-best home win streak.
Arizona freshman forward Deandre Ayton is one of two players in the Pac-12 averaging a double-double at 20.0 points and 11.5 rebounds. He was held to 14 points versus Oregon State after averaging 24.3 points in his first three Pac-12 games.
Sophomore guard Payton Pritchard paces Oregon in scoring at 15.2 points per game, but 11.5 in four conference contests.
Updated January 12, 2018