A big night by rebounder/shot blocker Eric Moreland would be a big help to Oregon St. against guard oriented California. - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Oregon St. (11-9, 1-6) at California (11-8, 3-4) / Haas Pavillion / 7 PM PST / ESPNU / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. hits the road this week for a pair of games in the Bay Area, beginning with a visit to the California Golden Bears.
The Bears were left gasping at Colorado on Sunday, losing to the Buffs 81-71, after trailing by as much as 18 in both halves. Justin Cobbs led all scorers, with 22 points, and the Bears' Allen Krabbe, the conference's leading scorer, was right behind, with 21.
But the 2, California's 2 leading scorers, got minimal support, while better balanced Colorado's Askia Booker led a quartet of the Buffs' starters who all had between 15 & 20 points.
The Beavers lost a knock-down drag-out battle against Washington St. 71-68 last Saturday, despite a combined 31 points from Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson, including 20 in the first half, and largely because the Cougars out-rebounded Oregon St. dramatically, especially on the Beavers' offensive end, and also shot 14 of 18 from the free throw line.
The Bears have beat the Beavers in 12 of the last 14 trips to Berkeley, and Oregon St.'s last win there came in 2009.
Last year, the Beavers won a 92-85 shootout in the first meeting, in Corvallis early in January. The game, one of the best of the year in the conference, wasn't seen by many, as there were no tv cameras in the building that night. Those not present didn't see Starks sink 5 3 pointers and pile up a new career high 24 points. The Beavers needed all of that though, in order to overcome Jorge Gutierrez''s game high 26.
The Bears shot better than 57% from the field, including over 62% in the second half, and still lost, a result of the Beavers shooting 63% for the game, and over 76% after the break.
California turned the tables in the mid February rematch at Haas, pulling away for a 77-63 win. The Bears jumped out to an early 12-0 lead, and though the Beavers had pulled back with 2 points at halftime, and effectively used their 1-3-1 zone to put the outcome in doubt late, it was the Bears who were Golden down the stretch on senior night.
That win had California in first place in the conference at the time, something well out of reach this year. However, while the loss in Boulder left the Bears as the leaders of the lower half of the Pac-12 standings, and now in 9th place after Wednesday's games, they are only 2 games out of 5th place in the conference race.
It's a critical game for the Bears, who will face teams ahead of them in the Pac-12 in their next 6 games after today's battle with the Beavers. It's also the start of a potentially season saving stretch for Oregon St. too, as though the Beavers are in 11th place, this evening starts a stretch of 8 straight games against teams only 1 of which is above .500 in Pac-12 games at the moment.
Lets see which team can take the first step towards a resurgent season.