Oregon St. opens play in the Pac-12 Tournament against Colorado this afternoon at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. It's a rematch of the season finale this past Saturday, in which the Beavers upset the Buffs (and defeated them too) 64-58 for their first ever win in Boulder.
Colorado was without Andre Roberson, the nation's leading rebounder, who was suffering a viral infection. It wound up being a factor, as Oregon St.'s Eric Moreland, who finished with a 17 point, 10 rebound double double, Joe Burton, who also had a double double, with 10 and 10, and Devon Collier combined for 26 rebounds. That translated into a +6 edge on the boards and a +8 advantage in points in the paint for the Beavers, which accounted for the difference in the final margin.
Roberson, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, is scheduled to be back for the tournament for the Buffs.
The win wound up not affecting the conference regular season and tournament seeding, as the Buffs wound up 5th and the Beavers 12th, and they would have been in the same spots had the result been reversed.
However, Colorado's disappointing performance ["Things the Buffaloes did well: There weren't any bright spots in the loss." - The Ralphie Report] in their season finale on Senior Day, one that prompted Buffs coach Tad Boyle to issue an apology over the Coors Event Center public address system after the game, which left their being invited to the NCAA Tournament in doubt, has to be a concern. Especially given that at game time, it was not known that a win wouldn't necessarily result in a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Last year, Colorado got hot in the conference tournament, after losing to Oregon St. in the regular season finale, winning 4 games to claim the initial Pac-12 Championship. It's a run the Buffs are hoping to repeat.
The first meeting of the season, back in Corvallis on Feb. 10, was a 72-68 win for the Buffs. It was one of the numerous games in which Oregon St. lost a late lead, as the Buffs out-scored the Beavers 13-5 in the final 4+ minutes, with Spencer Dinwiddie accounting for 9 of their 13 points. The Colorado comeback wasted an 15 point, 12 rebound double double by Burton.
If Oregon St. is to repeat last year's surprise run to the semi-finals of the Pac-12 tournament, they obviously have to start with another win over Colorado, and doing that will be easier if the Beavers can get Roberto Nelson going early.
In the first meeting, Nelson, who led the Pac-12 in scoring in conference games this season, had a team high 21 points, but only 4 of them came in the first half. Saturday, Nelson finished with 15 points, and all of them came in the second half.
The game should be interesting listening for those looking for something to take their mind off of work while waiting for tonight's Beaver baseball game at Goss.