OSU vs Utah: Bench play not enough as Beavs lose 80 to 69

Oregon State's freshman Hallice Cooke helps keep it close at times for the Beavers against the Utah Utes - Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State men's basketball continued to struggle with turnovers in their second conference loss in a row to the Utah Utes. In the 80 to 69 loss the OSU starters never get things going, but the Beavs young bench steps up to show some maturity and aggressive play to keep things interesting and close.

After a sloppy 17 turnover close loss to the Colorado Buffaloes Thursday evening, Coach Robinson opens up the game against the Utah Utes with the standard line up of Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, Angus Brandt, and Challe Barton; and in his second game back after the suspension Eric Moreland also gets the start.  But the story of the game became the OSU bench in keeping another turnover laden game close at times.

To open the first half Oregon State scores first on a nice Angus Brandt inside move to be answered by Utah's Jeremy Olsen own basket in the paint.  But the first two minutes became more about which team would turn it over, with OSU and Utah both chipping in some bad ball control.  Robinson goes the bench early too with Hallice Cooke and Langston Morris-Walker coming into the game, and at this point the game becomes a bit more sharp offensively as both teams exchange three point plays and three point field goals (including a 3-point shot by Morris-Walker who contributes quickly off the bench).  After the first five minutes the Utes are able up their lead to 13 to 9.

Freshman Cooke continued to show his maturity and hits an important three point shot to close the Utes lead to 13 to 12 at the 14:21 mark.  Moreland followed a Utah score off a nice assist by Morris-Walker, and then Cooke drained another three point shot to give the Beavs a 17 to 15 lead.   Utah though answers with an extra bit of rim assist on a three point field goal by Jordan Loveridge to reclaim the lead.

Utah then opens things up with three 3-point field goals to take a seven point lead, 24 to 17 at the 10:09 mark, and then were able to increase the lead to double digits to ten and then twelve points at the 8:06 mark, which all contributed to huge Utes run (which in many ways ended up being a game difference).   The Utah 18 to 0 run was finally snapped by a Roberto Nelson three point field goal at the 5:29 mark.

Cooke and Morris-Walker though added spark that the starters were lacking to help the Beavs to close the lead to seven points at the 2:46 mark, to be only answered by another Utah three point field goal to up the Utah lead back to ten points (a wide open Parker Van Dyke).   But freshman Malcolm Duvivier makes an impressive three point play off a great back-door cut dunk to get the Utes lead back down to single digits.  The game could have been fully in the Utes control with the lackluster starter play, but the young bench players keep the game close with some excellent and dynamic play towards the end of the first half (indeed the Beavs get 20 points from the bench in the first half).  As such even with the sloppy turnover play and the lack of scoring by the starters the Beavs were able to go into the break only trailing 41 to 32.

The Beavs went into the locker room shooting 57%, with 5 out of 7 three point field goals, and just 1 for 2 from the free throw line; additionally OSU chips in 12 rebounds with 9 turnovers.   The Oregon State leading scorers were Hallice Cooke with 11 points and Langston Morris-Walker with 6 points.   On the other side the Utes shoot 54% from the field, going 7 for 13 from the three point arc, and 4 for 5 in free throws; Utah also were able to grab 12 rebounds and only turned it over 3 times.   The Utah leading scorers were Delon Wright with 12 points and Brandon Taylor with 11 points.

The OSU starters though come out hot in the second half with a Roberto Nelson basket followed by a Challe Barton three point play and then a long Nelson three point field goal cut the Utah lead to three at the 18:08 mark.  But Utah finds their own offense and go 5 for 5 to open the half to sneak the lead back up to nine points with a Brandon Taylor three point field goal.

Early on it is Nelson who tires to take the game into his hands with aggressive play on both sides of the ball to help keep the Utes lead to only single digits, but Robinson sees the potential of the bench and quickly gets Hallice Cooke, Malcolm Duvivier, Jarmal Reid, Daniel Gomis, and Langston Morris-Walker back into the game.  Indeed Cheikh N'diaye also sees some key minutes in the second half giving Brandt some rest.

The starters come back in but after two key block shots by Utah the Runnin' Utes are able to hit a huge three point field goal to up the lead to twelve points, but Nelson is able to quiet the crowd a bit with a nice basket to answer.  The OSU defense is then able to step it up to create a shot-clock violation turnover.  The game for the mid point of the second half overall took a defensive turn with both teams able to create turnovers, block shots, as well as force offensive fouls.  The back-and-forth here does keep the score close and a Morris-Walker three point field goal brings the lead back down to single digits at the 7:35 mark.

The strong bench play for Oregon State continued to help the Beavs pressure the Utes on defense and also allowed for the OSU offense to chip away at the lead, highlighted by a nice out of bounds play to Devon Collier who is able to convert a three point play to get the lead down to three points with just over six minutes left in the game.  From here though Utah's Brandon Taylor takes control of the game and helps Utah increase the lead again, but the OSU bench still hangs tough and keeps things close with aggressive rebounding and offense.

In the end the Beavs are not able to overcome a lack of scoring by the starters and their turnovers.   Interesting though was the play of the OSU bench, who between Cooke, Duvivier, and Morris-Walker ended up scoring 31 points.   All three of the young guards were able to hit key shots and looked confident on the court against a tough conference team on the road.  All of which should bode well as they continue to mature, but at the same time the overall OSU turnovers were again a concerning component for a second loss in a row.

The end stats of the 80-69 Beaver loss broke down as follows:  OSU = 50% FG, 10 for 19 3-point FGs, 9 for 14 FTs, 27 rebounds, and 15 turnovers; Utah = 58% FG, 12 for 22 3-point FGs, 10 for 12 FTs, 24 rebounds, and 8 turnovers.   Oregon State was led by Roberto Nelson with 16 points, Hallice Cooke with 14 points, and Langston Morris-Walker with 11 points.  Utah's leading scorer owas Brandon Taylor with 23 points and Jeremy Olsen and Delon Wright each contributed 14 points.

The Beavs go to 8 and 6 overall and 0 and 2 for their opening Pac-12 series and will come home to host Stanford (9 and 4, 0 and 1) Thursday evening, and then will play Cal (10 and 4, 1 and 0) next Saturday.  Utah goes to 12 and 2 and 1 and 1 in conference play, and will play Washington (9 and 6, 1 and 1) this Wednesday evening.

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