Devon Collier led the Beavers in last year's game against Chicago St., with 19 points, and also in their last game, at Portland St., with a game high 23 points. - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Chicago St. (3-8) at Oregon St. (6-2) / Gill Coliseum / 4 PM PST / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KPOJ 620 AM
Oregon St. returns home for a Sunday afternoon winter break game against Chicago St. It's the return game from last year's Oregon St. visit to Chicago, which resulted in a 92-66 Beaver victory over the Cougars on Dec. 21.
The Beavers opened a 29 point lead in the first half that day, held a 50-24 halftime lead, and cruised to their 4th consecutive win by 20 or more points.
The Cougars come into Corvallis off their first win over a Division I opponent this season, a 67-54 win over Alabama St. back on December 8. (Chicago St.'s earlier wins were over Concordia, ILL, and Trinity, neither of which are D I.) Don't read too much into that, though; winless Alabama St. is another team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, that same circuit that sent Grambling St. to Corvallis last weekend.
Chicago St. struggled to a 4-26 record last season, including a 2-8 campaign in the Great West Conference. If the Cougars are to improve much on that mark before moving up to the WAC after the GWC dissolves, or give Oregon St. a game this time, it will fall largely to their trio of juniors, 6'9" forward Jeremy Robinson, 6'8" forward Matt Ross, and 6'4" swing man Quinton Pippen.
Robinson leads Chicago St. in scoring, averaging 11.5 points per game, and is second for the Cougars in rebounding, averaging 6.8 per night, just behind Ross' 7 per game. Pippen averages 9.5 points per game, and shoots just shy of 40% on 3 pointers.
Oregon St. got off to a slow start Wednesday at the Stott Center on the Portland St. campus, falling behind 22-13 before Roberto Nelson hit a 3 pointer that started an 8-0 run, which would eventually develop into a 19-4 run to halftime, as the Beavers resorted at length to their 1-3-1 zone defense instead of the man to man they have been trying to move to.
Devon Collier, who would eventually post a game high 23 points, opened the largest lead of the game, putting the Beavers up 50-38 about 1/3 of the way through the second half.
But the Vikings never gave up, and the Beavers had to hit 6 free throws plus get a layin from Collier, and a putback by Joe Burton, who finished with 20 points and a co-game high, with Eric Moreland, 7 rebounds, to hold off Portland St., and claim the 79-74 win.
This game will be another exercise for head coach Craig Robinson in attempting to figure out which of the younger players are going to be able to contribute some support to the veterans. So far, none have emerged.
Robinson will also be looking for Ahmad Starks to get back on track. Starks would have been shut out against Portland St. but for 4 free throws in the last 23 seconds of the game.
In addition to the in-game dunks, fans at Gill Coliseum will also see a performance by the TNT Dunk Squad at halftime, as the Oregon St. Athletic Department make a rare and welcome foray into down-time entertainment beyond glider tossing and toy tractor racing. It might prove to be better entertainment than the dubious caliber of competition coming to Gill this month.
The game bounces back to 620 KPOJ, and not KEX 1190, in the Portland area, as the Beavers are something of a hot potato in their major media market.
Here's the place to assess how the preseason is going, or look ahead to the Alamo Bowl during lulls in the action.