Oregon St.'s Devon Collier found the going against Arizona's Grant Jerrett, just as the Beavers did overall against the Wildcats. - (AP photo by Don Ryan)
In another game similar to their Thursday night loss to Arizona St., Oregon St. got off to a competitive start against third ranked Arizona, only to give up a major run right before and after halftime that was too much to overcome with a rally down the stretch.
The final score was again a 10 point difference, this time 80-70 vs. 72-62 against the Sun Devils, but the difference was a better Wildcat team never allowed the Beavers to get close enough to actually have a chance for a comeback.
Oregon St. played some of their better ball of the season in the first half, but also allowed Arizona some undefended shots and a lot of penetration. As a result, except for a 4-2 lead, the Beavers trailed the whole time. Oregon St. repeatedly got within 1 point or 1 basket, but could never get over the hump.
Ahmad Starks had a lot to do with it. and he did so with some driving baskets in traffic as well as hitting a couple of 3 pointers, including a 2 + 1 that made it 27-26 Arizona.
The Beavers pulled within 1 point again when Joe Burton hit a pair of free throws to make it 34-33 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half, after an unintentional flagrant foul on Kevin Parrom. But Oregon St. couldn't capitalize on the extra possession, and Arizona went on a 9-2 run in 2 1/2 minutes. When the Beavers couldn't get a quality shot in the last 37 seconds, having to settle for a Starks 3 from the left corner at the buzzer, the 'Cats had a 43-35 lead at the break.
"When you are playing a team that good, you can't have a slip up that gives them an 8 point cushion," Oregon St. head coach Craig Robinson said.
Most of the damage was done by Soloman Hill, who hit 4 of 5 3 pointers, and had 12 points at the break, offsetting most of a 13 point first half effort by Starks.
Arizona shot 6 of 11 on first half 3 pointers, helped by the fact that Oregon St. once again allowed several unchallenged baskets from beyond the arc.
The continued absence of Eric Moreland, still suspended indefinitely along with Victor Robbins, had a lot to do with it, as Arizona out-rebounded Oregon St. 22-14 in the early going, and got a lot of inside shots.
Arizona extended the run to 15-4 early in the second half, as Oregon St. suffered a 3 1/2 minute scoring drought.
Wildcat coach Sean Miller then capitalized on the size disadvantage inside, putting both 6'10" Grant Jerrett and 7' Kaleb Tarczewski on the floor at once, which also made the 'Cats' outside game better.
"We were much bigger around the rim with Grant (Jerrett), and got six blocks and Kaleb (Tarczewski) with about five defensive rebounds," Miller said. "There were a number of situations where the length of our team helped us closer to the basket."
Parrom wrapped a pair of 3 pointers around one by Jerrett, as the 'Cats improved to 9 of 17 on 3 pointers, opening a 60-45 lead, the largest of the game to that point, with 12:24 left.
Olaf Schaftenaar hit a 3 pointer to keep the 'Cats from getting completely out of sight, but the Beavers didn't defend the wing on a breakaway, allowing NIck Johnson an uncontested dunk, and then with 9:43 left, Hill hit another 3 pointer to open a 67-50 lead, the largest of the game.
Miller emphasized defense, and Oregon St. was never able to get the deficit back into single digits. The Beavers got within 11, down 10-59 with 7 minutes left, and 72-61 a minute later on a Roberto Nelson basket, but the 'Cats defense then didn't allow another Oregon St. field goal for over 4 minutes, until another Nelson basket with less than 2 minutes left, which sent much of the crowd of 7,224 headed for the exits and a frosty night in Corvallis early.
As a result, despite a 3 minute scoring drought of their own, Arizona didn't let Oregon St. get within 11 points again until Starks hit the 3 pointer that gave him a game high 18 points with only 33.6 seconds left that made it 79-68.
Starks' effectiveness declined once Miller put Johnson on him defensively.
Burton finished with 15 points with the last basket of the game that made the final 80-70, and Nelson also finished with 15 points. Devon Collier had a double double, with 13 points, and a game high 15 rebounds, but Jarmal Reid was again scoreless, and the Beaver bench only contributed 9 points.
Arizona got great balance scoring, with Hill and Mark Lyons both putting up 16, and Johnson 14, with Brandon Ashley adding 12, on 6 of 8 shooting. All 5 'Cat starters had somewhere between 5 and 7 rebounds.
After having dropped their game at Oregon Thursday night 70-66 to the Ducks, Arizona's win moved them to 15-1 for the season, and 3-1 in the Pac-12, with the first of the year's Territorial battles up next Saturday in Tempe against Arizona St.
Oregon St. dropped to 10-6, and 0-3 in the Pac-12, having lost 3 in a row, and 4 of their last 5. It will only get tougher, as the Beavers head to Los Angeles for a game Thursday night at 6 PM at conference leading UCLA (14-3, 4-0). The Bruins beat Colorado 78-75 in Boulder this afternoon.
After the game, Robinson said that Robbins will miss the game at UCLA, but return for Saturday's game at USC. The unexplained situation with Moreland is murkier, however.
"I have to decide what to do about Eric," Robinson said before the game, and indicated in the post-game press conference that he anticipated Moreland missing the UCLA game, but said he would announce more on Tuesday.
"We've all learned something," Robinson said.
But we still haven't learned any specifics of the nature of the "violation of team rules". However, Robinson's comments indicate the decision is not outside of his hands. And what most of Beaver Nation has learned is that without Angus Brandt or Daniel Gomis, there's no inside depth with Moreland out, and this weekend, the Beavers were in both games, but got beat in both games, and the absence of Moreland's double doubles inside (Moreland averages 10.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, and has 38 blocked shots on the season) was a direct contributor to it.
It would be good to learn what the transgression was that warranted a disastrous start to the conference season, which could make a strong run, and probably a 4 game in 4 day one, in the Pac-12 Tournament the only way to salvage the season for everyone else in and around the program. Sacrificing the good of the group over an individual's situation when some discretion exists, or should exist, is hard to justify.
Arizona St., and especially Arizona, are good, very good. But Oregon St. did not do a number of things that would have put them in their best position to be successful.
At the very least, Beaver Nation deserves an explanation.