Oregon St. (9-3) at Oregon (10-3) / Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR / 5 PM PST / ESPNU / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. and Oregon start their Pac-12 seasons this evening with the 343rd. basketball battle of the Civil War, the most contested college basketball rivalry in the country. Oregon St. leads the all-time series 185-157. Oregon has won 19 of the last 21 Civil War battles staged in Eugene.
Last year, the Beavers and Ducks split their regular season series, with both teams protecting their home court.
Oregon St. downed Oregon 80-72 at Gill Coliseum, as the Beavers built a sizable first half lead and then withstood scoring droughts in both halves and several Oregon rallies to pull out the 8 point win, with good free throw shooting a big part of the win.
Oregon turned the tables, taking a 93-83 win in the rematch. It was literally a case of turning the tables, as this time it was the Ducks who made the early run on the Beavers, and put the game away with good late game free throw shooting.
The Ducks, who would ultimately reach the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament, took the rubber match 88-74 when they met the Beavers on opening day of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament in Las Vegas.
Both the Beavers and the Ducks come in off wins at the expense of the Big West Conference over Christmas break.
Oregon had to put in some overtime to do so, but came away with a sweep, downing UC-Santa Barbara 82-78 in overtime on Monday, Dec. 22, and then needed overtime again a week later to take a 69-67 over UC-Irvine, notable in that the Anteaters are picked to win the Big West Conference.
UCSB made a second trip to the valley, and that didn't end any better for the Gauchos, as Oregon St. overcame a 16 point first half deficit to pull away for a 76-64 win.
The marquis matchup of the game matches Oregon guard Joseph Young and Oregon St. guard Gary Payton II.
The Ducks offense is centered around Young, who leads Oregon in scoring, at 19.6 points per game, and also averages a team high 4.3 assists per game.
Similarly, Payton leads the Beavers in scoring, with 12.5 points per game, and also dishes out 3 assists per contest. Payton also leads Oregon St. on the boards, with 8.7 rebounds per game.
But there are plenty of other key players. Victor Robbins is second in scoring for Oregon St., averaging 11 points per game, and that's coming off the bench. Olaf Schaftenaar has scored 53 points in the Beravers' last 3 games, due in large part to knocking down 9 of 18 3 pointers for more than half of his total points.
Dwayne Benjamin leads the Ducks on the boards, with 6.9 rebounds per game, and had a game high 18 points in Oregon's win over UC-Irvine.
And 6'6" freshman Dillon Brooks, who averages 14.5 points per game, has been in double figures for the Ducks in all but 1 game this season.
Oregon is an 8 1/2 point favorite, but the question is will the home court advantage be worth as much as it usually is in Eugene, what with Duck fans possibly pre-occupied with celebrating their 59-20 Rose Bowl rout of Florida St., and planning their trip to Texas to take on Ohio St. a week from Monday for the National Championship.