For all of Arizona’s struggles on the road, it certainly knows how to return home and take it out on seemingly anyone.
Oregon knows all about that having been trounced three times last season in home, away and neutral venues by the Wildcats, and any sort of retribution Thursday night in Tucson requires overcoming the nation’s longest home winning streak.
Arizona won last season’s meetings by an average of 26.6 points, the most lopsided a 90-56 final in Tucson exactly a year ago. Across the three games, the Wildcats shot 54.1 percent while limiting the Ducks to 38.5 with a plus-14.7 rebounding margin.
“Ever since we got beat here, there and in the Pac-12 (tournament), I can’t wait,” Oregon’s Dillon Brooks said. “It’s going to be a great game.”
The 18th-ranked Wildcats (16-4, 4-3) have won 49 straight at home by an average of 22.5 points, but that’s actually only included two ranked opponents – last season against then-No. 9 Gonzaga and then-No. 8 Utah.
This season’s pummelings include a 22-point victory over Washington on Jan. 14 followed two days later by a 23-point win over Washington State. The freshest result, though, is Saturday’s 74-73 loss at California – Arizona’s third in four road games.
“Winning on the road, winning in a game like tonight, winning with the crowd they had, we would have had to play a terrific game,” said Sean Miller, whose team plays seven of its last 11 at home. “We played a good game but we needed to play better.”
Across conference play, home teams were 28-14 entering Wednesday with the league’s 10 best going 26-8.
Oregon held serve with Saturday’s 86-72 home victory over UCLA following an 89-81 home win over then-No. 21 USC two nights before. The No. 23 Ducks (16-4, 5-2), however, are 1-2 in Pac-12 road games and 10-11 since the start of 2013-14.
“It’s tough on the road,” said coach Dana Altman, who was previously the boss at Creighton and Kansas State. “And the thing that makes our league tougher on the road after being in the old Big 8 and Missouri Valley for all those years, when you always have to play two on the road, it’s different.
“It’s tough on the road. But that’s college basketball.”
The Ducks might have a shot if they continue their hot shooting. They’ve averaged 84.8 points and shot 50.6 percent, including 44.3 from 3-point range, over a 3-1 span. Brooks has scored 20.3 on 53.8 percent and is 7 of 16 from long range in that time.
They’ve also gotten more from fellow forward Chris Boucher, who’s averaged 17.0 points and shot 68.4 percent in his last two. Oregon again expects to face size concerns, and the 6-foot-10 Boucher is its only starter over 6-7, while the Wildcats have most recently started three players between 6-9 and 7 feet.
“I think it’s just my mindset of not giving up,” said Boucher. “I know they’re bigger than me. I can’t really do anything about it. The best thing I can do is just work harder and run the floor, stuff that they can’t do that I can do.”
That wasn’t enough last season to get Oregon anywhere near a manageable rebounding effort, and there’s no reason to think it should change now. Arizona has outrebounded its two home conference opponents by an average of 14.5, and Oregon has conceded a 4.4 edge in three road contests.
Ryan Anderson is Arizona’s main man on the glass with 10.0 per game, ranked second in the Pac-12, and he wasn’t even around for last season’s matchups. He also leads the Wildcats with 14.9 points per game and is averaging 17.0 while shooting 73.5 percent in his previous four.