2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinals preview: No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 8 Arizona State
LAS VEGAS – Quarterfinals action in the 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament will pit the conference’s top seed Oregon against an upstart Arizona State squad with a tourney win under its belt. On Wednesday, ASU used a 3-point barrage in overtime and a big effort from Obinna Oleka to claim a 98-88 win over Stanford.
ASU and Oregon met in Eugene on Feb. 1 and the Sun Devils nearly pulled off a big upset, but the Ducks escaped with a 71-70 victory. Perhaps it's no surprise that Pac-12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks played a starring role, scoring the final 12 points for the Ducks.
“I think that was our game to win in Eugene,” said ASU guard Tra Holder. “But down the stretch, Dillon Brooks took it over. He’s [Pac-12] Player of the Year so we respect him. We’re going to watch him and see how we can correct our mistakes, so hopefully we’ll give ourselves a better chance to win.”
No. 1 seed Oregon (27-4 overall, 16-2 Pac-12)
Oregon coach Dana Altman has assembled one of the nation’s most complete and exciting squads up in Eugene. From clutch performers to shooters to slashers and shot blockers, there aren’t many weaknesses in Oregon’s game.
“They’re an elite team and one of the best teams in the country,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said of Oregon. “We have to try and play our style and got to take care of the basketball.”
The Ducks enter Thursday’s contest riding a six-game winning streak and ranked as the No. 5 team in the nation. They captured a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title with Arizona but earned the top seed by beating the Wildcats, 85-58, in Eugene on Feb. 4.
— Oregon Basketball (@OregonMBB) March 8, 2017
Players to watch
Dillon Brooks, F, Junior
Height/Weight: 6-7, 225
Key stats: 16 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.7 rpg, 52.6 FG%
The ever-clutch Brooks was named Pac-12 Player of the Year earlier this week after leading the conference’s best team in the regular season. He’s an elite swingman who can hurt you from distance or while getting to the rim. But perhaps what sets him apart from other players in the Pac-12 this year is his penchant for making the big basket when it counts.
Jordan Bell, F, Junior
Height/weight: 6-9, 225
Key stats: 10.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 63 FG%
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is more than just a shot blocker. He’s also one of the best dunkers in the Conference of Champions and loves to get the arena rocking with his high-energy plays.
No. 8 seed Arizona State (15-17 overall, 7-11 Pac-12)
The Sun Devils can be a tough cover for opposing defenses since Hurley often starts four guards – Holder, Torian Graham, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice – along with Oleka. ASU was able to keep the Ducks uncomfortable last time around, and it’s clear Hurley is confident playing small ball.
“We’re not traditional,” Hurley said. “We’re different, but different in a really good way.”
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 8, 2017
Players to watch
Obinna Oleka, F, Senior
Height/weight: 6-8, 225
Key stats: 12.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 0.8 bpg
Oleka went off in the Pac-12 Tourney opener on Wednesday, dropping a career-high 27 points while grabbing 13 boards to lead the Sun Devils to victory over Stanford. He’ll have his hands full with Bell and defensive stalwart Chris Boucher, but ASU needs his presence in the paint in order to avoid becoming one-dimensional.
Shannon Evans II, G, Junior
Height/weight: 6-1, 160
Key stats: 15.2 ppg, 4.4 apg, 2.2 3pg
Evans might not garner the same attention as his fellow teammates like Graham and Holder in the ASU backcourt, but don’t sleep on this shifty scorer. He tied his season high with 28 points against the Ducks on 10-of-16 shooting back in February.
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