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January 14, 2012

Turner 'more comfortable' heading into showdown with Oregon

Less than 48 hours removed from an emotionally charged 81-73 overtime victory, Arizona will attempt to win its third straight game in a Saturday matinee against Oregon at McKale Center.

Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

The Wildcats (12-5, 3-1 Pac-12 Conference) were involved in bench-clearing shoving match Thursday night against Oregon State. But because no punches were thrown once the tape was reviewed, the Pac-12 did not hand down any suspensions.

As a result, ejected backup center Kyryl Natyazhko, who left the bench, and senior guard Kyle Fogg, who bumped OSU's Jared Cunningham during a celebration to spark the incident, will be available for head coach Sean Miller.

Since the third-year head coach took over the program in 2009, UA is 25-0 when scoring 80 or more points.

Senior Brendon Lavender came off the bench to produce a career-high-tying 18 points and made 5 of 6 3-point attempts in the victory.

Miller said that Lavender could see increased playing time as a result of his play. The senior is shooting a staggering 60.5 percent from beyond the arc this season.

The team also has received steady performances of late from point guard Josiah Turner.

In his last five games, the freshman is averaging six points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists while maintaining a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'm about a nine," Turner said in a release. "I just feel more comfortable right now. It's nothing more than that. I'm more comfortable with what I'm doing."

After slowing down the conference's highest-scoring team that averages more than 83 points per game, the 'Cats will square off against a Ducks team that averages just under 70 points and has scored just two fewer total points than UA in the same amount of games.

"I have no doubt at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, playing Oregon, that we're going to be in another dogfight," Miller said. "Hopefully we have some confidence from this game, but that's pretty much how our conference season's gonna go."

As a team, Oregon (12-5, 3-2 Pac-12) does not shine more in any one particular area, instead ranking in the middle of the conference in most statistical categories.

The Ducks have three double-digit scorers led by Devoe Joseph, who is averaging 15.1 points per game but has appeared in just 11 of the team's 17 games. Joseph, a senior transfer from Minnesota who made his season debut Dec. 10, had to sit out the first six games because of NCAA transfer rules.

In a 67-58 win at Arizona State on Thursday, Joseph scored a team-high 15 points for Oregon, which has split its last four games.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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