Arkansas St.-Oregon Preview - Sports Illustrated

Arkansas St.-Oregon Preview

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Though it hasn't been entirely easy, Oregon continues to take advantage of its opening stretch of home games.

Coach Dana Altman expects his No. 21 Ducks to maintain that success Wednesday against Arkansas State.

With its first six games in Eugene before visiting UNLV on Dec. 4, Oregon (4-0) has the opportunity to get off to a solid start. However, Altman wants to make sure his squad doesn't take anything for granted during this stretch.

"I told the guys, heck, we're at home, we should win," Altman said. "I want them to take that mentality and find a way."

The Ducks looked strong while shooting 50.5 percent to beat Jackson State and Savannah State by a combined 46 points. They also showed their grit by grinding out a seven-point victory over then-No. 20 Baylor last week and a 73-67 win against feisty Valparaiso on Sunday.

"Now, we've got to get better," Altman said.

Oregon would seem to have a good chance to work out some kinks against Arkansas State (2-2), which lost by a point at Savannah State last Wednesday to open 0-2 on the road. Altman's biggest concern appears to be on the offensive end where the Ducks have shot 29.6 percent from 3-point range and turned the ball at least 13 times in all but one contest.

They've also shot 64.2 percent from the free-throw line. The Ducks looked better while going 17 of 24 from stripe Sunday, but only because they held a major advantage over a Valpo team that went to the line six times.

"We've got a lot of things to iron out," Altman said. "Offensively, we've got a long way to go ... We're not sharp with anything we do offensively. There's a lot of room for improvement."

Dillon Brooks, however, has hit all 11 of his free throws this season and scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half Sunday. He also pulled down 13 rebounds for the Ducks, who trailed by as many as four after halftime but continue to play solid defense.

Oregon has held its opponents to an average of 61.3 points and 39.7 percent shooting, including 28.9 from beyond the arc.

"Even when we're down, we can still get wins," said Brooks, who totaled 30 points and 14 boards in the first three games. "Overall I think if we grind out every game and we play hard on defense, we can go against anybody."

The Ducks hope for an easier time against the Red Wolves, who bounced back from the loss to Savannah State by winning 78-69 over Jackson State on Sunday. Arkansas State overcame 42.3 percent shooting and a six-point halftime deficit to even its record.

"If we're scoring 75 points a game, for a team like mine, that's good," said Arkansas State coach John Brady, whose squad is holding opponents to 34.8 percent from the field. "We just got to defend."

Arkansas State forward Anthony Livingston averages team highs of 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds.

This is the first meeting between the schools.