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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 6 Arizona MBB returns home to face Oregon

Olivia Malone
The Arizona men’s basketball starters huddle before their game against Cal on Feb. 1 in McKale Center. By halftime, they had a 48-28 lead over the Golden Bears.

The No. 6 Arizona men’s basketball team makes its way back home this week to host the University of Oregon on Saturday, March 2, at noon in McKale Center. Arizona (22-6, 13-4 in Pac-12) picked up a rivalry win last week, completing its season sweep against ASU on Feb. 28 in a 85-67 victory against the Sun Devils. The Wildcats will look to end their regular season in the win column against the Ducks and pick up their third consecutive win.

History vs. Oregon

The most recent matchup between Arizona and Oregon was on Jan. 27, where Arizona visited Oregon and won 87-78 in Matthew Knight Arena as Caleb Love scored a career-high 36 points that night. The Wildcats lost their very first meeting against the Ducks in 1979 with a score of 63-60 but Arizona currently leads the all-time series record at 54-36. Arizona is 4-6 in its past 10 encounters with Oregon, with this Saturday being the 91st game between the two programs.

Oregon players to watch

The Ducks are led by head coach Dana Altman, who achieved his 750th career win with a 78-71 victory over Oregon State University on Feb. 28 in Matthew Knight Arena. With this win, Oregon swept the season series against the Beavers, and five Ducks scored double figures. Oregon has won three of its last five matches, accumulating a season record of 19-9 overall so far, but the Ducks are notably 12-2 when at home.

Center N’Faly Dante continues to improve as the leading scorer for the Ducks, averaging 14.8 points per game, 1.4 assists and 1.8 blocks. Dante has also grown his field goal percentage to 63.4% and leads the team in rebounds, averaging 8.4 per game and picking up seven rebounds against Oregon State to add onto 11 points. The senior has collected nine turnovers in his past two games; ball handling may look to be a priority for Arizona.

Kwame Evans Jr. led Oregon to victory against Oregon State with 22 points and nine rebounds, alongside three steals and one block. The forward also got to the line on multiple occasions, going 9-12 on free throws against the Beavers. The six-foot-nine freshman ranks second on the team in rebounding, averaging 5.2 rebounds. Evans is also averaging 8.1 ppg and 1.2 assists.

Freshman Jackson Shelstad has already started making his impact, becoming Oregon’s third leading scorer, averaging 12.2 ppg, 2.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Shelstad piled on 11 points, three assists and four rebounds in the victory against Oregon State. The guard has a season-high of eight assists collected in a matchup against California Baptist University, catapulting the Ducks to the 76-55 victory.

Arizona players to watch

Kylan Boswell was the leading scorer in the victory Arizona claimed over ASU, scoring 17 points on 7-9 of his shots for the night. Additionally, Boswell was 3-4 from beyond the arc and grabbed two rebounds as well as two assists in the same night. The guard averages 10.1 ppg, 2.4 rebounds and adds on 1.3 steals per game. Boswell remains the category leader for assists, averaging 3.6 assists per game.

Oumar Ballo has been a consistent force on the floor when it comes to offense and defense. Ballo claimed his eighth consecutive double-double of the season against ASU, scoring 14 points and 13 rebounds. The seven-foot center was perfect on his shooting ability for the night, going 6-6 on field goals, continuing to average a double-double consisting of 13.2 ppg and 10.1 rebounds while also contributing one block per game. Ballo’s free throw percentage has grown tremendously as well, as he now shoots an average 63% from the line compared to the 43.5% the senior was shooting in January.

Love was one of the five Arizona players that scored in double figures over the Sun Devils. The former Tar Heel from the University of North Carolina capped off the evening with 16 points, five assists and eight rebounds. The senior guard remains the leading scorer for the Wildcats, putting up a stat line of 19.3 ppg, 3.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds while also adding on 1.2 steals per game.

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