Tip off: 3 p.m. MT/ 2p.m. PT
Television Pac-12 Networks
Most of the attention of the Oregon fan base is focused elsewhere, with the Ducks facing the Ohio State Buckeyes in the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game in Dallas. Meanwhile back in Eugene, there is still basketball to be played at the Matthew Knight Center. Herb Sendek and co. are still looking for their first conference win in what will be their third try while Oregon wants to rebound from a tough loss against No. 7 Arizona.
ASU update 8-7 (0-2):
The Sun Devils will need to get something going, and do so quickly if they want any hope of making any postseason tournament. The fell on Thursday night 55-47 to Oregon State, once again falling victim to the turnover battle, giving the ball up 16 times. Shaquielle McKissic and Eric Jacobsen did all they could with 11 points each, but it wasn't enough as ASU still hasn't won on the road this season. The maroon and gold lost the battle on the glass 34-24 and the Beavers made their free throws down the stretch to seal the win. ASU had issues with the OSU zone defense most of the nigh. They were unable to penetrate the gaps and settled for shots from beyond the three point arc, most of which didn't fall as the Sun Devils were 4 of 21 from beyond.
Oregon update 11-4 (1-1):
The Ducks were winners of six straight before they fell to the Wildcats Thursday night at home. A tumultuous offseason that saw three players get dismissed from the program after rape allegations had many thinking Altman would have a rocky season at Oregon. But the Ducks have certainly persevered, currently sitting fifth in the Pac-12, just 1.5 games out of first place. Oregon has set themselves up for success in conference play and currently rank first in the Pac-12 in scoring and assists.
Keys to victory:
1. Stop Joseph Young
Last season against ASU, the maroon and gold edged out a win but Young scored 29 points in the second half. This season, the redshirt senior is currently second in the Pac-12 averaging 19.6 points per game. Gerry Blakes will have to find a way to shut him down to give the Sun Devils a chance.
2. Make the freshmen earn it
The Ducks have had some young guns progress well this season. They're accounting for 40 percent of the team's scoring and 43 percent of their total rebounds. Freshman forward Dillion Brooks is averaging 13.8 points per game. Fellow 6-foot-9 freshman Jordan Bell is averaging 3.4 blocks per game, which is currently second in the Pac-12. ASU has its fair share of newcomers too, but making smart decisions on the court with shot and pass fakes can sometimes exploit freshmen who like to jump to the ball. Jacobsen has more experience as well as 30 pounds on Bell in the paint, he'll need to take advantage of that as well.
3. Find the fire
ASU came out in the second half against Oregon State and found some other gear. It wasn't enough to win, but their scrappy play to stick around even when the shots weren't falling is to be admired. That being said, Young is a much better player than Gary Payton II. Whether its mental, or just going back to fundamentals to nix the turnovers, the Sun Devils have to find some way to beat what is a better basketball team Saturday. Oregon ranks top 30 in the country in points, rebounds and assists per game. A victory will show this team is still worth watching but a third straight loss and falling to .500 will probably start to lose part of the fan base for the season.
Prediction: Oregon- 83 ASU-76