UCLA (16-4, 5-2) at Oregon (14-5, 2-5)
When: 6 p.m., Thursday, Matthew Knight Arena
TV: ESPN2 (Bill Walton, Dave Pasch)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
No. 1: Point guard matchups. Backup Johnathan Loyd, the team’s assist leader, will be limited and in a mask after breaking his nose earlier this week. That leaves a bigger load for Dominic Artis, who started last season but was suspended for the first nine games of his sophomore campaign for selling school-issued apparel.
Despite rejoining the first five, however, Artis has not logged more than 20 minutes in his last five games. He has made more than two field goals in only one of his ten appearances, and is shooting just 35.3 percent from the field.
Kyle Anderson, meanwhile, is in the midst of an exemplary offensive season and threatens for a triple-double every time he steps on to the court. It’s hard to imagine either Loyd or Artis — 13 and eight inches shorter — to give him much trouble defensively, so Oregon could use 6-foot-5 guard Damyean Dotson.
No. 2: Oregon’s big man rotation. Besides former UCLA and UNLV forward Mike Moser — who plays 29.1 minutes per game — the Ducks don’t have anyone over 6-foot-5 that plays more than 18.2. Even Moser, who leads the team with 7.8 rebounds, isn’t exactly a bruiser. He’s taken 88 3-point shots this season, just eight fewer than leading scorer Joseph Young.
The rest of the frontcourt has been in flux recently. Ben Carter has started his last two games after being suspended for the first nine alongside Artis, but only hadn’t grabbed more than four rebounds in any outing this season until his career-high nine against Washington State on Sunday. Junior college transfers Richard Amardi and Elgin Cook add depth, but have been inconsistent.
UCLA doesn’t boast a ton of heft down low either, but now has a great opportunity to attack down the lane. The Bruins are only 10th in free throw rate (34.5) through conference play, but Oregon has allowed more opportunities at the line than any other Pac-12 team. The Ducks allow a 53.8 free throw rate to league opponents; Washington State, which ranks 11th, allows 46.9.
No. 3: Will being on the road make a difference? Pac-12 teams are just 12-34 on the road during league play, and UCLA has benefitted from playing five of its first seven at home. Oregon’s schedule has been just the opposite, which didn’t help as the Ducks entered a five-game skid.
Now, the slate switches. Matthew Knight Arena, which averages a middling 6,650 this season, isn’t a bad place for the Bruins to get their feet wet again.
Oregon starting lineup:
F – Mike Moser, Sr., 6-8, 211: 13.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.9 bpg
F – Ben Carter, So., 6-8, 220: 3.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg
G – Damyean Dotson, So., 6-5, 209: 10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 apg
G – Joseph Young, Jr., 6-2, 185: 17.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 39.6 3P%
G – Dominic Artis, So., 6-1, 186: 5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
F – Richard Amardi, Sr., 6-8, 224: 7.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.9 spg
F – Elgin Cook, So., 6-6, 206: 7.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 56.3 FG%
G – Johnathan Loyd, Sr., 5-8, 163: 8.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 5.7 apg