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Wednesday, November 13, 11 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Matthew Knight Arena (12,364) -- Eugene, Oregon. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: WCU 2-0, Oregon 0-0. Away Record: WCU 0-0, Oregon 0-1. Neutral Record: WCU 0-0, Oregon 0-0. Conference Record: WCU 0-0, Oregon 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: Back after an international foray in the season opener, the 18th- ranked Oregon Ducks begin a four-game homestand against Western Carolina on Wednesday at Matthew Knight Arena.
Western Carolina has come out of the gates well in their ninth season under head coach Larry Hunter. With a 77-65 victory over Division II foe Wittenberg and a 74-67 triumph over UNC Asheville, the Catamounts are 2-0 to begin the campaign. Playing away from home may be a tough way to keep that going, especially against a ranked opponent. Last year Western Carolina did not beat a single team (0-13) inside of the RPI Top 200. The Catamounts also struggled as the visiting teams with a 5-11 mark on the road.
Oregon was half a world away in its season opener as it battled Georgetown at Camp Humphreys in Seoul, South Korea. The Ducks got off on the right foot in the contest, earning an 82-75 victory over the Hoyas, despite the suspension of one of their best guards, Dominic Artis, who will miss the first nine games for selling team merchandise. The Ducks didn't seem to miss Artis much, thanks to transfers Mike Moser and Joseph Young as well as some timely shots from reserve Jason Calliste. Oregon, a team that made its way to the Sweet 16 last year, has won at least 20 games in three straight seasons.
With each of these teams calling different ends of the country home there has not yet been an opportunity for their paths to cross prior to this season.
A pair of double-figure scorers have been at the forefront of the Catamounts' early success. James Sinclair (15.0 ppg, 4.5 apg) has been just as good a scorer as a distributor in the early going. Both efforts were on display against UNC Asheville when he set season bests with 17 points and five helpers. Tom Tankelewicz (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) has also been a sturdy scorer through two games, as the team's top performer on the glass. Tankelewicz netted 14 points but managed just a pair of rebounds in the last game. Tawaski King showed that he will be a key part of the offense as well with 14 points against UNC Asheville. Hunter has not used a very deep rotation early on with only seven players getting more than 15 minutes of playing time in the first two outings.
Young came into Oregon to add scoring punch for the Ducks. He certainly accomplished that goal against the Hoyas as he poured in 24 points, while knocking down all 12 of his shots from the free-throw line. Young averaged an even 18 points per game last year for the Cougars and will be even more important to the Ducks with Artis sidelined early on. Moser also made a strong impression in his debut for the Ducks. The former UNLV forward put in 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, though he did get into some foul trouble. Calliste's efforts off the bench were a nice surprise. Damyean Dotson (seven points, eight rebounds) and Jonathan Loyd (nine points, seven assists) were the two major pieces returning for the Ducks other than Artis. Dotson was successful on just 1-of-8 shots from the floor.
Young and Moser were as good as advertised in a tough matchup on opening day. The Ducks will have an easier time with the Catamounts, especially if Dotson is able to get into more of a rhythm on the offensive end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 81, Western Carolina 62
11/13 10:33:07 ET