Oregon State (12-6, 3-4) at Arizona State (11-9, 1-6) / Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, AZ / 6:30 PM AST (5:30 PM PST) / Pac-12 Network / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon State starts their mid-winter trip to the desert with a visit to the House of Sparky, or at least Wells Fargo Arena, the house Sparky plays in, in Tempe tonight, before forging on to Tucson for Saturday night's showdown with Arizona.
The Beavers broke out of a 3 game losing streak Sunday afternoon with an 85-70 win over USC, in which Oregon State pulled away in the second half after overcoming a 4 point half-time deficit. Gary Payton II supplemented his game high 22 point and game high 15 rebound double double with a game high 8 assists as he neared a triple double, and a game high 4 steals.
He got a lot of help, as Tres Tinkle added 18 points and 7 rebounds, and Drew Eubanks, who returned to the starting lineup after a 2 game hiatus, chipped in 12 more points.
The Sun Devils on the other hand saw their losing streak extended to 3 games Saturday night when Stanford's Roscoe Allen made a driving shot with 5 seconds left to put the Cardinal up 75-73, and then Gerry Blakes couldn't connect on a 3 pointer for the win.
It was particularly frustrating for Arizona State fans, as the Sun Devils, led by Tra Holder with 18 points, had more players in double digits than Stanford, and they out-rebounded the Cardinal as well. And all 3 losses in the current streak have been by 5 points or less.
It's the 84th meeting in the hotly contested series, which Arizona State leads 42-41. But its been brutal for the Beavers in Tempe, where the Sun Devils have won the last 7 in a row, with Oregon State's last win at Wells Fargo arena coming clear back on Jan. 13, 2007. And that dates to even before the "Curtain of Distraction" came into being to distract visitors while shooting second half free throws (stats show that on average, this has lowered opponents' ft% over 10% compared to the first half).
And due to the Pac-12 schedule rotation, this is the only meeting of the regular season, as the Arizona schools don't visit the state of Oregon this season for men's hoops. On the flip side, the only women's games between the schools are in Oregon, and this weekend.
Last year, the 1 game differential all-time was maintained, as after the Beavers had evened the series with a 55-47 win at Gill Coliseum on Jan. 8 that was Coach Wayne Tinkle's first Pac-12 win, after holding the Sun Devils to just 20 points in the first half, Arizona State turned the tables with a 73-55 win in the rematch in Tempe on Jan. 28 to regain the series advantage, and snap a 3 game Oregon State winning streak in the process.
Both games were Malcolm Duvuver/Gary Payton combo shows for Oregon State, as Duvivier had a game high 15 points in the win at Gill, with GP II adding 12, and Payton pouring in a game high 23 points, and Duvivier adding 14.
The game starts a stretch of games where the Beavers will play 5 of their next 7 on the road, and the Sun Devils have the poorest record, both in conference and overall, of any team Oregon State will face on the road the rest of the season. The road has been a big challenge for the Beavers, who haven't won a true road game since Nov. 21 at UC-Santa Barbara, and only have 1 road Pac-12 win in Coach Wayne Tinkle's tenure, last Jan. 17 at Washington State.
As such, its one of the most "must win" games of the season for the Beavers.
Connor will have complete analysis and postgame quotes for us from Wells Fargo Arena tonight.