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Oregon Ducks Stagger in Boulder, Look Ahead to the Arizonas

The Ducks dropped three spots to No. 13 in the AP Poll after losing to Colorado. The team now enters its toughest stretch of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Colorado Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon’s 17 game winning streak was snapped on Saturday in a 74-65 loss to Colorado. The Buffaloes’ defense managed to hold the Ducks to 38.6 percent from the field, their first time being held under 40% since an ugly overtime win against Tennessee all the way back in November. Colorado also became only the third team this season to score more than 70 points on Oregon’s elite defense. To put it simply, Oregon played one of its worst games of the season on both ends of the court. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Ducks lost after a performance like that.

Oregon has no time to wallow in defeat. The next two weeks will be a testament to the team’s resilience as a whole. The Ducks will face Arizona State on Thursday, and while the Sun Devils’ 10-12 record might not appear to pose a threat, the Ducks will have to come prepared. Arizona State has managed to cause some trouble for some solid teams. The Sun Devils suffered some close losses to USC, Utah, and even stayed within single digits of Creighton. Arizona State has a solid offense, but also has one of the lowest rated defenses in the nation. If Oregon’s defense can keep the Sun Devils at bay, then this game could be a confidence booster for the Ducks’ offense going into one of the biggest games of the season.

On Saturday, the Arizona Wildcats come to Eugene looking to assert their dominance in the Pac-12 after taking down UCLA on the road just a couple weeks ago. With some of the off-court issues that plagued the team early on, to go along with the resurgence of UCLA, the Wildcats have spent most of the season being overlooked in the Pac-12. That’s no longer an issue for them, having climbed all the way up to No. 5 in the latest AP Poll. It’s obvious Arizona’s success isn’t a fluke, as its only two losses have come to currently ranked teams, including the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs. With both teams having beaten UCLA, Saturday’s match-up will be for Pac-12 supremacy.

Oregon and Arizona appear to be pretty evenly matched, having similar statistics both offensively and defensively. The two teams are very skilled on both ends of the court, with a slight emphasis on the defensive end. In conference play, Oregon and Arizona are first and second respectively in both points allowed per game and opponents field goal percentage. Expect this game be low scoring, and close for the entire forty minutes.

Even if Oregon escapes Saturday with a victory, the tough schedule continues. The Ducks will rematch both UCLA and USC the following week before returning home for the final time this season to face both Utah and Colorado. Oregon’s road to the Pac-12 title will not be an easy one. Before it can win the conference title, Oregon has to prove it can take down the competition in the regular season first. A victory against Arizona on Saturday would be an effective way of doing so.