EUGENE, Ore. – Just as Arizona isn’t the same team it was a month ago when it barely escaped Oregon at McKale Center, neither are the Ducks.
In fact, the way Sean Miller sees it, Oregon has returned to being much as it was when it jumped out to a 13-0 record this season.
“They’re the team now that they were at the beginning of the year,” Miller said this morning at the team's hotel. “When we caught them at McKale, it was like the end of that middle run where I thought they were just starting to turn it around.”
Since Oregon left Arizona and ASU at 3-8 in conference play, the Ducks have won six straight. Miller says the Ducks have become more settled at guard, where they start Johnathan Loyd at the point and shift Joseph Young over there at times while using Dominic Artis sparingly.
“When they have (Young) as their point guard, he’s a scorer who kind of creates and makes everybody better,” Miller said. Forward “Mike Moser is playing the best that he’s played at Oregon right now. And one thing that Oregon’s always had is depth, you can see those guys coming in the game and doing a good job. They have three or four key guys off the bench contribute and that allows them to play the fast pace they like to play.”
Rather than take all of Thursday off, the Wildcats opted for their only chance to throw down some shots at Matthew Knight Arena.
Miller said the Wildcats spent about 75 minutes at Matt Arena on Thursday, since they had to use the Ducks’ practice facility today and won’t get a chance for a pregame shootaround on Saturday morning because of the early afternoon start.
The practices were short and pointed, since not only is it March but also the Wildcats are coming off a rough game at Oregon State on Thursday.
“We want to practice hard but it’s kind of right at it and move on,” Miller said. “We’re healthy. It was just a physical game the other night and some of our guys played a lot of minutes in the second half. You could kind of see it.”
Oregon coach Dana Altman heaped praise on the Wildcats while meeting with reporters Thursday.
“They have represented the league about as well as any team could,” he said. “They’ve been in the top five all year, they’ve won big games. They’ve just been a great representative for our league, put the league in the spotlight.
“So we all we all owe Arizona something, and the rest of us are tagging along a little bit. Hopefully, at the end of the season all of us can do something special to help the league but Arizona has realty carried the flag for the league.”
Altman said the Wildcats were playing well after having made the adjustment from losing Brandon Ashley, which Arizona reeling from the last time the two teams met on Feb. 6 at McKale.
“You have two different periods when you lose somebody,” he said. “The first two games, you have everybody gathered together, and somebody steps up big time because of the opportunity. But then you have that period where you miss that guy. Then you make the adjustments and go from there.
“Gabe York is shooting the ball well for them and everyone’s picked it up a little bit so they have adjusted without Brandon. Brandon is tough to lose -- he’s very versatile, can pick and pop, spread the floor a little bit. But they’re playing pretty well.”
Elsewhere in the Pac-12:
-- Washington's defense broke down in a second straight home loss to UCLA.
-- WSU dropped to the cellar with a home loss to USC.