Oregon looks to continue mastery of Arizona

NCAA Basketball

Oregon is surging toward the postseason, winning seven of its past eight games as it prepares for a busy final week of the regular season.

The Ducks (16-5, 11-4 Pac-12) are scheduled to play three games this week, starting Monday against visiting Arizona (17-8, 11-8) in Eugene, Ore. Then comes a home game on Wednesday against UCLA that could determine the regular-season conference champion and a Sunday matchup against rival Oregon State.

Oregon is coming off a 74-63 victory at Cal on Saturday.

“We just got to get home, get rested, take a day where we just hopefully get mentally ready,” coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve got a really difficult week ahead after this difficult week. Our conditioning and our mental toughness will really be tested.”

The Ducks have won six consecutive games against the Wildcats, including a 63-61 win in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 13. Monday’s game, originally set for Jan. 16 but postponed due to Oregon’s COVID-19 issues, was put back on the schedule Feb. 22.

It will serve as Arizona’s season finale, pending the unlikely event of the Wildcats adding a nonconference game late this week before serving a self-imposed one-year postseason ban.

“I think our guys are really excited to go to Oregon,” coach Sean Miller said. “The group that we have, I don’t think I have to give them a pep talk.”

The last three Arizona-Oregon games have essentially come down to the final seconds. The Ducks won a pair of overtime games last season and prevailed this season when Chris Duarte hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 15.6 seconds left. Arizona failed to get a good look before the buzzer.

Duarte is averaging a team-high 17.2 points and shooting 42.5 percent (48 of 113) from beyond the arc. Eugene Omoruyi averages 16.8 points. LJ Figueroa is coming off a 20-point, 14-rebound effort against Cal and is scoring 11.5 points per game.

“When he’s going, our team seems to play with more energy,” Altman said.

For Arizona, James Akinjo poured in a career-high 26 points and added seven assists in Saturday’s 75-74 win over Washington to continue his late-season hot streak. The point guard has scored at least 19 points in four consecutive games to boost his season average to 15.4.

“If we didn’t have him, I think we’d be 8-17. We might be 5-20,” Miller said. “That’s how much he means our team.”

Azoulas Tubelis is also hot. He has two double-doubles (both with 15 rebounds) in his past three games, and is averaging 12.2 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds.

Oregon has won nine of the past 11 meetings against Arizona.

–Field Level Media

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