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Video credit: Pac-12 Networks
Scouting report: No. 23 Oregon
Game info: 8 p.m. Wednesday at Alaska Airlines Arena (10,000 capacity).
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch and Bill Walton).
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Coach: Dana Altman is 64-33 in his third season with the Ducks, 474-276 (.632) as a Division I head coach and 597-300 overall. Prior to joining Oregon on April 26, 2010, he spent 16 seasons at Creighton where he became the school’s all-time winningest coach with a record
of 327-176 (.650). He led the Blue Jays to 13 consecutive postseason appearances and 11 straight seasons with 20-plus wins. In four seasons (1990-94) at Kansas State, Altman amassed a 68-54 (.557) record. He also had a 15-13 (.536) record in one season (1989-90) at Marshall.
Prediction: Picked to finish seventh in a preseason poll in the Pac-12 by media who cover the conference.
Series: Washington leads 187-106 in a series that began in 1904. Tonight’s game will be the 294th meeting between the teams, the second longest rivalry in the Pac-12. The Huskies have won 13 of the last 20 games. UW coach Lorenzo Romar is 15-9 against Oregon, including 10-1 at Edmundson Pavilion. Altman is 3-4 against the Huskies.
Last meeting: Both teams met 19 days ago and Oregon won 81-76 on Jan. 29 at Matthew Knight Arena. The game was close until midway in the second half when the Ducks capitalized on Washington turnovers to spark a 7-0 run that gave them a 50-40 lead with less than 15 minutes left. The Huskies made a run at the end and closed to within four points thanks to 23 Oregon turnovers. UW had 21 TOs, which ruined an otherwise brilliant offensive display. The Huskies shot 51.9 percent from the field and made 8 of 12 (.667) three-pointers. Backup point guard Andrew Andrews scored a team-high 15 points to lead five Huskies in double-digit scoring.
Previous game: Snapped a three-game losing streak with a 73-64 comeback win over Utah at Matthew Knight Arena.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Senior forward Arslan Kazemi (near right), a 23-year-old from Iran who played three years at Rice, is turning into the emotional leader for Oregon. He delivered an impassioned halftime speech last Saturday, which spurred the Ducks into overcoming a 30-22 halftime deficit and rallying for a nine-point win over Utah.
Kazemi is a get-it-done type of a player. There’s not a lot of flash to his game. The 6-7, 226-pound forward is a tough inside and leads Oregon with a 9.6 rebounding average. He’s not dynamic or overly athletic. But he’s crafty on the defensive end where he averages 2.1 steals and savvy on the offensive side where he averages 8.8 points and 1.3 assists. And he’s gritty while often providing the hustle plays that don’t show up in the statistics.
In their last meeting, Kazami finished with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting. He was 3 of 4 at the free throw line. He had 11 rebounds – two on the offensive glass – an assist and a steal in 36 minutes.
Kazemi has extensive playing international basketball. He’s been a captain for several Iran national teams since he was 17.
Romar on Kazemi: “Wow. What a welcomed addition he is. He is an unsung hero on that team I guarantee you. He just rebounds. Plays within his role. He makes big plays. Smart. You can watch him play and be really impressed with what he does out there.”
— Senior E.J. Singler is coming off of a 21-point performance last Saturday. It was his second-highest scoring tally this season. He made 12 of 13 free throws, which was odd considering he hadn’t taken a foul shot in the previous three games.
The 6-6 senior forward has taken a larger role in the offense recently and as such his turnovers have skyrocketed. Against Washington, he had seven TOs. He’s averaging 4.2 in the past five games.
Still, Singler is a Pac-12 MVP candidate despite producing a season in which his statistics are down from last year. He’s averaging fewer points (10.7 from 13.6) and accuracy on field goals (.413 from .467), three-pointers (.356 from 368) and free throws (.842 from .909) has decreased.
His legacy is measured in wins. He needs one victory to tie Freddy Jones and Joevan Catron (81) for the most wins in school history.
Singler also has a 119-game streak of consecutive starts. He’s played in every game since his freshman season. His brother Kyle starred at Duke and plays for the Detroit Pistons.
— Point guard Dominic Artis, who is considered one of the Pac-12’s promising freshmen, has missed the past five games with a foot injury. With Artis, Oregon is 17-2. Without him, the Ducks are 2-3. Artis started every game before the injury. He was averaging 10.2 points and a team-high 3.8 assists.
Altman on Artis: “We knew he was a good player when he was with us. He was really growing as a player and improving every week. And since we’ve lost him, we’ve struggled. He was our primary ball-handler, so we’ve struggled a bit in that area. During conference play, he was shooting the three-point ball at 50 percent, so he had been shooting it well. So he spread the defense and made it a little easier for everybody. … D.A.’s a good basketball player, so when you lose a player of that caliber it affects your team.”
— Junior Johnathan Loyd has stepped in to replace Artis with mixed results. At times he’s been turnover prone. He had five against Washinton and six against California. He’s had big assists nights, including seven helpers versus the Golden Bears. Against Stanford and Colorado, he had one total assist. Loyd has also struggled shooting, converting just 6 of 28 field goals in the past five games.
— Damyean Dotson doesn’t get as much publicity as the Pac-12’s other prominent freshmen. However, the 6-5 freshman guard from Houston has provided stellar play in his first year. He’s averaging a team-high tying 11.3 points and has led Oregon in scoring six times, which ties for the team lead.
— Senior center Tony Woods is a serviceable big man who comes up short in rebounding while averaging 3.6 boards, but he’s a capable scorer who averages 10.2 points. His forte is blocking shots. He has 78 in is Oregon career, which ranks third on the school’s all-time list.
— Backup forward Carlos Emory does a nice job running the court and finishing plays with powerful dunks. He had two spectacular slams against Washington in their last encounter. He also had 11 points off the bench in 23 minutes. He’s the top reserve who has started five games this season.
—The brilliance of Oregon is its depth and balance. Nine players average at least 11 minutes and there’s not a major decline in talent in the rotation. However, losing Artis has changed everything. His absence has forced Loyd and freshman guard Willie Moore to take more minutes, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
— Oregon’s best weapon is its defensive versatility. Few teams play as many defenses as the Ducks, which uses a full-court press, sideline trap, varying zone schemes and man-to-man defense. Preparing for them is a grind because you have to practice against multiple looks. It’s even more difficult in games because you have to recognize what’s coming at you, then figure out a way to score against that defense.
— Altman is considered the best Xs and Os coach in the Pac-12, according to poll of ESPN contributors. He finished seventh on a top 10 list.
— Perhaps most amazing about Oregon’s season is most believed the Ducks were due for a breakout next season. They were hit with mass defections last season. Three freshmen left the program. Three of the top four scorers graduated, including a senior backcourt. Only two starters and six letterwinners returned. Oregon brought in six freshmen and three transfers. Somehow Altman quickly molded them into a cohesive unit.
— Oregon ranks third in Pac-12 games allowing opponents an average of 65.5 points. The Ducks have held seven teams to 50 points or fewer.
— Oregon has used seven starting lineups. Singler has started every game while Dotson and Woods have each made 23 starts. The group (below) is 2-3.
C – Tony Woods, 6-11, 243, Sr. 10.2 ppg., 3.6 rpg., 1.1 bpg.
F – Arslan Kazemi, 6-7, 226, Sr., 8.8, 9.6, 2.1 spg.
F – E.J. Singler, 6-6, 215, Sr., 11.3, 4.9, 3.0 apg.
G – Damyean Dotson, 6-5, 202, Fr., 11.3, 4.0,1.0
G – Johnathan Loyd, 5-8, 155, Jr., 3.3, 1.3, 2.4