It’s going to be strength against strength when the No. 16 Oregon Ducks meet the No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks on on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the San Diego Invitational. Per Her Hoop Stats, Arkansas is first in the nation in free throw rate (27.6 percent) and Oregon is second in opponent free throw rate (10.3).
The Razorbacks are coming off a big win over now-No. 21 Creighton, 83-75 this past Saturday. Sophomore leading scorer and leading distributor Samara Spencer had 26 points (5-of-7 from three) and four assists.
That win, along with a 69-53 win over then-No. 25 Kansas State (now receiving three voting points), gives Arkansas a better resume than Oregon. The Ducks, who unlike the Razorbacks were ranked in the preseason, don’t have a ranked win or a win against a team currently receiving votes. They do have three wins against Power 5 opponents (Northwestern, Michigan State and bitter Pac-12 rival Oregon State). They also had a good showing against now-No. 6 UNC on Thanksgiving, only losing by six. Because of that experience against the Tar Heels, it’s hard to say the Ducks aren’t battled-tested, but the three Power 5 victims have a combined record of just 20-14 (0-4 conference play). At least Oregon has dominated its competition, sporting a scoring margin 10 points better than Arkansas.
Spencer is averaging 16.5 points and 4.4 assists and is certainly an exciting player. She will be going up against the dangerous Oregon backcourt of Endyia Rogers and Te-Hina Paopao. Rogers has big-game capability; she notched 34 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals against Oregon State on Dec. 11. She is also third in the country in 3-point percentage at 54.8 (2.3 makes per game). Paopao, on the other hand, is leading the nation with an assist/turnover ratio of 5.71. In 10 games, she has 40 helpers and just seven miscues. The Ducks also have two-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Grace VanSlooten, who is averaging 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds, and 6-foot-8 center Phillipina Kyei, who is averaging 9.7 points and 11.2 boards.
Spencer is joined by forward Erynn Barnum, who holds her own status among the nation’s best. She is fifth in the country with a field goal percentage of 68.2.
Arkansas also has Makayla Daniels, its biggest returning star from a year ago, who is averaging 13.4 points and 3.2 assists. Redshirt freshman Saylor Poffenbarger is key as well; 2021’s No. 30 Hoop Gurlz recruit is averaging 9.2 points and 8.3 rebounds after transferring over from UConn.
It should be a good game between these two teams and obviously a big resume win is on the line. Both teams will play again on Wednesday as the San Diego Invitational continues.
No. 16 Oregon Ducks (9-1, 1-0 Pac-12) vs. No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks (13-0, 0-0 SEC)
When: Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Pechanga Arena in San Diego, CA
Key to the matchup: Arkansas’ ability to get to the line vs. Oregon’s defensive discipline. Arkansas’ only two advantages are field goal percentage defense and getting to the free throw line. The Ducks have better scoring offense, scoring defense, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage defense and rebounding margin. Their 3-point percentage is much better. Turnover margin is nearly equal. The Razorbacks get to the line way more (28.1 attempts per game to 18.4). It’s the one area where they could hurt the Ducks significantly, but they’ll have to improve their accuracy. Their free throw percentage is only 62.5. Also, Oregon only allows 10 free throw attempts per game.