The top opponent remaining on Oregon’s nonconference schedule arrives at Matthew Knight Arena Wednesday night.
The Ducks still have trips to Boise State and Baylor, but San Diego is well ahead of those two schools in the NCAA’s Net rankings as it looks to defeat a second Pac-12 opponent this season. The Toreros (8-2) are ranked No. 49 in the NCAA’s new metric used to assist the tournament selection committee, nine spots ahead of the Ducks.
“When we scheduled the game we knew we would get a Top-75, maybe Top-50 team and they are,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “They scheduled us because they knew we were young and they had four senior starters.”
The Toreros beat Colorado 70-64 last month and led Washington in the final four minutes before losing 66-63. Their only other loss was 93-86 at Mississippi.
San Diego returns four starters from a 20-win season last year, including 6-foot-7 Isaiah Pineiro, who leads the team with 20.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Guards Olin Carter and Isaiah Wright are scoring 16.4 and 13.1 points per game, respectively.
“Four seniors starters who won last year,” Altman said. “They beat Colorado and San Diego State and had a chance to get Washington, which is a very experienced team. We are going to have to play really well, no doubt about it.”
Altman has less trouble passing that message on to his team after a stunning 89-84 home loss to Texas Southern two weeks ago.
"San Diego looks like a real good team, so it is going to be a good game," junior point guard Payton Pritchard said. "You have to take every game serious, Texas Southern showed that. I feel like we can beat whoever, but we can lose to whoever, so we have to be ready."
San Diego has won three straight, including a 73-61 win across town at San Diego State.
"They make you guard and they know what they want out of each possession," Altman said. "They run their stuff real well and are well-organized. They play like seniors and know what they want. They don't waste possessions and right now we are wasting a lot of offensive possessions and quite a few on defense. We have to get a lot better about that."
Freshman Louis King had 11 points in 16 minutes during his debut for the Ducks (5-3) in Saturday's 84-61 win over Nebraska-Omaha. King missed the first seven games with a knee injury, but Altman said he felt fine after the game and he might play more minutes against San Diego.
Altman adjusted his starting lineup for the first time this season against Nebraska-Omaha, including the addition of freshman Will Richardson into the backcourt alongside Pritchard.
"That allows us to have two ballhandlers, two people to get in the lane and make plays for others," Pritchard said. "That allows me other opportunities in the offense."
Richardson is shooting 56.3 percent from the field while averaging 7.5 points while ranking second on the team with 19 assists.
"Will has been solid for us all year," Altman said. "He had four assists and one turnover (against Nebraska-Omaha) and he makes good decisions. We need him to turn up his intensity on defense."