Oregon mens basketball focused on improving on defense, faces Arizona State in Pac-12 tournament


EUGENE Oregon enters the Pac-12 tournament amid a five-game win streak and with a chance to improve seeding in the Big Dance. . . To have a successful week in Las Vegas, starting with Thursdays 11. 30 a. m. , Pac-12 Network quarterfinal matchup with No. 8 seed Arizona State, the top-seeded Ducks will need to return to form on the defensive end. . . Ive been concerned about some of the baskets weve been giving up, our rotations and communications sometimes in transition, Oregon coach Dana Altman said. Our defensive numbers have not been good here this week. It is what it is, our numbers arent there. Hopefully Tuesday and Wednesday we can tighten a few things up before we head to Vegas. . Oregon 19-5 has seen its offense take off over the last month, but its defense has waned in the process. . . Over the last five games, UO averaged 77. 4 points and shot 51. 1% from the field, including 46. 8% from three all above its season averages of 74. 1 ppg. , 46. 9% and 38%, respectively. In the same span opponents scored 68. 2 points and shot 49. 5% from the field, including 35. 1% behind the arc also higher than UOs season averages allowed of 66. 9 ppg. , 43. 3% and 32. 8%, respectively. . . As a result, Oregons adjusted offensive efficiency has risen to 17th but its defensive efficiency has dropped to dropped to 76th, according to KenPom. . . Altman has mentioned those figures to his team and hopes it resonates with the junior and senior-laden starting group. . . I do talk about it, Fellas not only am I saying that our defense needs improvement, the analytics are saying it, Altman said. Thats just time-tested over the years, most teams that advance are in the top 20, top 30 of both metrics offensively and defensively. Every now and then you can come up with an exception but over the course of time history has dictated that those metrics usually work out. . . Consistency is important because you do have to string games together and defensive consistency, offensive consistency, is what the good teams do. . In facing Arizona State 11-13, Oregon gets another showdown with Pac-12 leading scorer Remy Martin. The senior scored just six points to help the Sun Devils get past Washington State on Wednesday. . . Martin scored 30 points against the Ducks earlier this season, albeit in a loss, and has averaged 17. 5 points in his last seven games against UO. He hasnt shot as well against Oregon over his career compared to the rest of the Pac-12 though, with Martins 38. 8% shooting and 34. 9% from three both ranking 8th against 11 conference opponents. . Its not like theyre going into Thursday game going, Were going to spread the minutes around, Altman said. Youre going in, We got to find a way to win. . . Arizona State is so talented. If they get it going from three, theyve got tremendous offensive players on the perimeter. Remys got it going against us a number of times over four years. Alonzo Verge is there and he can get it going. . . Oregon can significantly improve its resume this week with up to three wins, which if everything breaks right will include two games in Quadrant 1. . . Altmans aware of UOs NET ranking 32 and believes the players are rested enough following eight games in 18 days to be ready for what could be three more in three days. . . I want to keep them fresh emotionally and mentally to try to get ready to play three games in three days but heck, we got to win Thursday, Altman said. You got to keep that in mind all the time. Fellas, lets just get ready to play Thursday. If you win, the adrenaline starts to flow anyway. You dont worry about three in three days, you worry about Thursday and usually that takes care of itself. Guys get excited, their competitive juices start to flow and they get ready for that next one.