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Jan 24, 2024 3:35 pm

Oregon, Arizona State duel in matchup atop Pac-12

The top of the Pac-12 standings will be in focus Thursday when Oregon plays host to Arizona State at Eugene, Ore.

The teams are part of a three-way tie for first place in the conference, along with No. 9 Arizona, heading into play Thursday.

Oregon coach Dana Altman announced this week that 7-foot center Nate Bittle should be ready to return against the Sun Devils after missing the past two months with a wrist injury that required surgery.

Altman said the Ducks (13-5, 5-2 Pac-12) will not have freshman forward Mookie Cook after the McDonald’s All-American aggravated an ankle injury in last week’s loss at Utah.

Cook, who has averaged 1.2 points in 6.4 minutes over five games this season, did not make his season debut until Jan. 4 because of the injury.

Bittle averaged 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in the three November games he played before his injury.

“(Bittle) didn’t feel comfortable last Sunday but practiced hard today,” Altman said Tuesday. “We’ll see how it feels. I don’t want to make any promises, but if he gets through (Wednesday) and gets through shootaround and he feels OK, I would sure like to play him.”

Oregon absorbed defeats at Colorado and Utah last week after starting the Pac-12 season 5-0. Jermaine Couisnard and N’Faly Dante were productive in the 80-77 loss at Utah on Sunday, which included 15 lead changes and nine ties.

Couisnard scored 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field with a career-high seven 3-pointers made on 10 attempts. Dante, who was out recently with a knee injury, had 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, with team highs of 10 rebounds and six assists.

Arizona State (11-7, 5-2) bounced back at home against Southern California after losing to UCLA last week in a game the Sun Devils surrendered a 12-point lead in the second half.

Frankie Collins, among the nation’s leaders in steals with 3.1 a game, had six in Saturday’s 82-67 win over USC.

Jamiya Neal scored 17 points, many of them off fast breaks following USC turnovers that resulted from defensive pressure generated by Collins.

“Defense is offense for us; that’s what we preach,” Neal said. “There’s no better way to score than get out in transition, get steals, get stops and get out quickly.”

–Field Level Media

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