Can Jared Cunningham "Kiss The Sky" again against Arizona?
Oregon St. (11-5, 1-3) at Arizona (11-5, 2-1) at 6:30 PM MST (5:30 PM PST) at the McKale Center / ROOT Sports NW / KEJO 1240 AM / KPAM 860 (Streamed)
Oregon St. opens this season's road trip to the desert with a visit this evening to the McKale Center to take on Arizona.
With the advent of the Pac-12's rotating schedule module, where some teams only meet once in the regular season, this year, the Oregon and Arizona schools only face each other once, in the desert.
The Beavers are looking to bounce back from a thrilling but disappointing 4 overtime 103-101 loss Saturday night to Stanford. The Cardinal rallied from double digit deficits in both the first and second halves, and the game turned into the longest battle in the history of either school. Stanford survived when Roberto Nelson, who had earlier hit back to back 3 pointers with only one shoe on took the game deciding shot, and it was a couple of inches too long. The loss left Oregon St. with a weekend split against the Bay Area.
Nelson and Jared Cunningham were the 2 Beavers of the 6 in double figures with the most points in the Saturday night 3 hour plus marathon, as both posted 19 points. Joe Burton and Devon Collier both turned in double doubles, with Burton getting 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Collier accumulated 16 points and 11 boards.
The Wildcats got a weekend split as well, but needed a 57-46 win over USC on Sunday, after their trip to LA started with a loss to UCLA. Jesse Perry's 20 points overcame a gloomy 2 of 15 shooting performance by the 'Cats from 3 point range. Soloman Hill helped out with 11points, and Kyle Fogg contributed 10, and also had 3 assists. It will probably be up to Fogg to try to control Cunningham.
Arizona hasn't been able to replace Derrick Williams' presence inside, which was a big part of their 70-59 win over Oregon St. the last time the teams met in Tucson, which won the Pac-10 regular season conference championship for the 'Cats, and Arizona's 78-69 win that eliminated Oregon St. from last year's Pac-10 Tournament, and ended the Beavers' season.
As a result, they play a 3 guard, 2 active forward system, depending on Hill, a 6'7" junior, and the 6'7" Perry, a senior for their front-court work, with Fogg, a 6'3" senior guard the backcourt anchor for Arizona as he has been, seemingly forever.
And of course, Oregon St. fans will never forget the Beavers' 76-75 upset of Arizona last Jan. 2, which featured Cunningham's "Kiss The Sky" putback dunk that has become the signature call of ROOT Sports promo spots.
The Beavers' size and length should afford a real advantage the 'Cats will have trouble countering. If Oregon St. can get Burton, Collier, Angus Brandt, and Eric Moreland going, it could be a long evening for Arizona, something they rarely experience at the McKale Center.
But it will take a solid defensive effort, keeping Perry's quickness in check, and some accurate shooting for the Beavers to get an elusive win in Tucson, where they have only won 6 times in 35 games, and only once, a 63-55 win 2 years ago, since 1983, when Charlie Sitton, A.C. Green, and Danny Evans got it done. Oregon St. had taken 3 of 4 from Arizona before the 'Cats win last March, including the great win 2 years ago in Corvallis, when Lathen Wallace's last second three pointer sank Arizona 67-64.
Here's the place to recall those recent great Beaver games against the 'Cats, analyze tonight's action, and then stick around to scout the following game on ROOT, where Arizona St., Oregon St.'s Saturday night opponent hosts Oregon, whom the Beavers will be visiting in a couple of weeks.