Oregon St. (8-4) at #20 Colorado (11-2) / Coors Events Center, Bouider, CO / 8 PM MST (7 PM PST) / ESPNU / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. and 20th ranked Colorado open Pac-12 play tonight in Boulder. The Rocky Mtn. trip will be the only time in the regular season the Beavers meet either Colorado or Utah, whom they play Saturday afternoon, as the Buffs and Utes do not make a return trip to the state of Oregon this season.
The game will see the return of forward Eric Moreland for the Beavers. Originally suspended for a repeat violation of team rules until the start of winter term, which doesn't begin until Monday, Oregon St. Craig Robinson announced last New Years night that he was lifting the suspension early. Moreland, who has practiced with the team all season, and should immediately help the Beavers, especially on the boards.
The Buffs are off to a great start to their season, with their only setbacks being their opener back on Nov. 9, a 72-60 loss to then #25 but now #9 only once beaten Baylor, and a 78-73 loss to #6 Oklahoma St., who also has only lost once so far this season, in a game played in the MGM Grand Hotel.
The Buffs' last outing was an 84-70 win over Georgia. Colorado's strength of schedule has translated to an RPI of 8, quite a contrast from the 153 Oregon St.'s middling non-conference schedule has produced.
Against the Bulldogs, Booker led 5 Buffs in double digits with a game high 19 points. Spencer Dinwiddie, who leads Colorado in both scoring and assists for the season, added 17, and Josh Scott had a 14 point, 13 rebound double double.
Dinwiddie begins conference play averaging 15.8 points and 3.8 assists per game. Scott leads the Buffs on the boards, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game, and is second in scoring, at 13.1 points per game.
The Beavers downed Quinnipiac 76-68 Sunday night in their final non-conference contest of the season. Oregon St. was led by Angus Brandt, who had a game high 21 points and 5 rebounds in his first game back after missing 2 1/2 games in the Diamond Head classic, a consequence of hyper-extending and bruising his right knee a minute into the second half of the Beavers' tournament opener against Akron.
Last year, Colorado took 2 of 3 from Oregon St. Both teams won on the other's floor during the regular season, and then the Buffs took the rubber match in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Buffs won 72-68 in GIll, as the Buffs out-scored the Beavers 13-5 in the final 4+ minutes, with Dinwiddie accounting for 9 of the 13, on his way to a game high 24 points. It negated 6 3 pointers Ahmad Starks knocked down, 21 points by Nelson, 17 of which came in the second half, which led Oregon St., and a 15 point, 12 rebound double double by Joe Burton. Scott had 17 for Colorado.
The Beavers returned the favor, with a 64-58 win in the Coors EC in the last game of the regular season, their first win ever in 7 trips to Boulder. The Buffs were without Andre Roberson, one of the best rebounders in the country last year, and Moreland, Burton, and Collier combined to pull down 26 boards.
Moreland and Burton both had double doubles, Moreland's a 17 point, 10 rebound effort, and Burton a double 10, and Nelson added 15 points for Oregon St., while Dinwiddie had a game high 18 points for Colorado.
Colorado then took a 74-68 win 4 days later in Las Vegas, on their way to the NCAA Tournament, as Dinwiddie posted a game high 20 points. The Buffs won the game by hitting 15 of 20 free throws, including 9 straight in one stretch, in the final 3 minutes of the game.
Nelson led the Beavers, with 20 points, but his uncharacteristically going only 6 of 18 from the line had a lot to do with Oregon St.'s season coming to an end.
It's a big game for both teams, with very stiff tests for both coming up this weekend, as the Rocky Mt. swing for the Oregon schools could have a lot to do with how the Pac-12 ultimately shakes out come March.
Oregon St. moves on to Salt Lake City, to take on Utah Saturday afternoon. The Utes are a 2 point loss at Boise St. away from having had a perfect non-conference campaign.
10th ranked Oregon, who did have an undefeated pre-Pac-12 campaign, and plays Utah this evening, visits Boulder Sunday afternoon.