Oregon St. (9-14, 4-8) vs. UCLA (17-7, 8-3) - 1 PM - Pauley Pavilion - FSN
Oregon St. rolls into Pauley Pavilion this afternoon to take on the Big Bad Bruins, who are looking like just that again, after dispatching Oregon 64-54 Thursday night for their fourth consecutive win, and eighth in their last nine outings. UCLA got 25 points from guard Malcolm Lee, who knocked down 10 of 19 shots, against the Ducks.
Or maybe the Beavers are merely strolling in. Thursday night's 67-56 loss to USC across town at the Galen Center was Oregon St.'s second consecutive loss, fifth in their last six games, and eighth in their last ten. The Beavers have also dropped seven in a row on the road, not having won outside of Gill Coliseum since they defeated Howard (and a few of his closest friends) back on November 27.
Lately, the problem has been a lack of scoring punch, which has wasted a series of what has generally been decent defensive efforts. Jared Cunningham led Oregon St. against USC with [only] 11 points, and was the only Beaver in double figures. Devon Collier had 8 points, and made all of his shots from the field, though he was only 2-7 at the line, and also 3 rebounds and 3 steals.
Oregon St. has only reached 60 points once in their last six games, and that was the one that they won. At the same time, UCLA has held their last three opponents under 60 points. Clearly, finding some more points will be difficult, but also the most likely key if Oregon St. is to break through today.
Roberto Nelson, who has been in a slump of late, but led the Beavers, with 13 points, in the first game against the Bruins, would be a good place to start. He will have to get off to a good start when he gets into the game to do that, though. Nelson's minutes have been shrinking as a product of not producing when he has had the opportunity.
The Bruins game is the second in a run of three Oregon St. games that FSN has picked for national coverage, vs. the regional package. This weekend's games being against the LA teams could account for part of that, but next week's game at Mac Court is also to be televised nationally as well. Given that the national games were chosen before the start of the season, it seems FSN was with Oregon St. fans in expecting the Beavers to be playing better at this stretch of the season, and in the middle of the Pac-10 race.
That UCLA run of eight wins in nine games started with a 62-57 win over Oregon St. at Gill Coliseum back on January 13, in the teams first meeting of the season.
Beating the Bruins is something the Beavers don't do often at best. UCLA has won 12 straight over Oregon St., and 7 in a row at Pauley Pavilion. The Beavers haven't beaten the Bruins since the 2005 Pac-10 Tournament.
Oregon St.'s starting lineup has stabilized lately, with Ahmad Starks settling into the point guard slot, and both Angus Brandt and Joe Burton starting on the front line for size purposes. Starks saw a game high 31 minutes for the Beavers against USC, and will be tasked with slowing down Lee. These three have joined Cunningham and Devon Collier as starters of late.
UCLA also relies heavily on getting major minutes from both Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt in their front court, and this is an area Oregon St. will need a good defensive effort, possibly getting either Nelson or Honeycutt in foul trouble.
We'll have a breakdown after the game, and this is the place to post your observations as the game goes along.