(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
Arizona State is looking to get back to their winning ways as they head to Eugene to take on Oregon.
The Sun Devils (21-4, 10-3 Pac-12) are in the midst of their first losing streak this season, having dropped back-to-back games against California and Oregon State. The losses put a serious damper on their ability to win the Pac-12 championship, but Arizona State still has a shot at a top four NCAA tournament seed and a home regional.
Oregon (12-12, 5-8 Pac-12) had a rough start to conference play, but have found their stride lately, winning four of their last five. In the first matchup between these two squads, Arizona State defeated Oregon 70-58.
Keys to the Game:
-Stop Jillian Alleyne
I said it back when these two squared off the first time and I’ll say it again, Jillian Alleyne is the key to Oregon’s success. Despite her team’s .500 record, Alleyne has been one of the most dominant players in the entire conference. The 6-foot-3 junior forward leads the team in points with 17.4 per game, rebounds with 15.5 per game, and blocked shots with 1.4 per game. The Sun Devils have struggled against big teams as of late, and although Alleyne isn’t as tall as a Ruth Hamblin, she is an even better rebounder, so ASU will need to focus on securing the boards and limiting Alleyne’s chances.
-Get Going Early
Arizona State has been starting off very slow recently, facing a halftime deficit in each of their last three games. ASU started off slow against Oregon in the first matchup and was able to make a comeback and take over the game in the second, but Oregon is an extremely athletic team that is playing some of their best basketball right now, so they will need to execute early on in order to avoid getting behind on the road early.
-Move the Ball
The Sun Devils didn’t do a very good job of sharing the wealth against Oregon State, tallying only four assists on the night. Without that threat of a cutting player or quick ball movement, the Arizona State offense loses a dimension and is easier to defend. ASU will need to move the ball around more in their half-court sets and try to find open teammates for easy looks so that the Oregon Defense will have a tougher time trying to contain them.
The X-factor in this game are the Arizona State bigs. Jillian Alleyne is one of the best players in the conference and fuels everything that Oregon wants to do as a program. If Sophie Brunner and Quinn Dornstauder can limit her production, the Ducks will have trouble finding any offense, but that is much easier said than done.
Although Oregon is playing well as of late, I don’t think that they’ll be able to pull off the upset today. Arizona State will pull out of their slump and claim a victory over the Ducks in Eugene.
Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.