Oregon State (12-7.6, 3-5) at #18 Arizona (16-5, 4-4) / McKale Center, Tucson, AZ / 7:30 PM AST (6:30 PM PST) / Pac-12 Network / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon State will try to get a winning streak going again tonight in Tucson. After playing one of their best games of the year last Sunday in beating USC 85-70 last Sunday, the Beavers played one of their worst games, or at least one of their worst first halves, Thursday night in Tempe, losing 86-68 at Arizona State.
It won't be easy, as they face a grumpy group of Wildcats, who won't be 18th ranked next week, after 21st ranked Oregon snapped Arizona's 49 game winning streak at McKale Center with an 83-75 upset win Thursday night. Oregon State has already lost in 32 of their last 33 visits to McKale, and now the 'Cats are mad at the world.
The Beavers got themselves in a huge hole right off the bat against the Sun Devils, who used an 18-3 run to establish a double digit lead by the time the second media timeout rolled around. Arizona State effectively defended Gary Payton II, and Oregon State shot 19% in the first half, this against a Sun Devil squad that opponents shoot above 50% against on average.
The Beavers' freshmen were about the only ones who played well for Oregon State, as Tres Tinkle and Drew Eubanks both had 12 points, and Stephen Thompson came off the bench for 14. Oregon State recovered somewhat in the second half, and finished having shot 43% for the game. But Arizona State shot just shy of 60% for the night, including 46% from 3 point range, as the Sun Devils repeatedly burned the Beaver defense.
The 'Cats couldn't come up with any answer for the Ducks' Dillon Brooks, and his game high 24 points, but Oregon also surrounded him with 4 other players in double figures. This while it was all about Ryan Anderson and Gabe York, who had 22 and 18 points respectively, for Arizona. But beyond that, only Kaleb Tarczewski got to double digits, and he only had 11.
It's exceedingly rare for Arizona to lose at home, but equally as rare for the 'Cats to shoot 61%, and almost 10 percentage points better than their opponent, AND win the battle on the boards handily, AND have a substantial edge at the free throw line, AND still lose by nearly a double digit margin. The issue was volume shooting by Oregon, which is anything but a blueprint for Oregon State.
This year's Beavers are better built for offense than last year's squad, which upset the 'Cats 58-56 in Corvallis, before being blown out of Tucson 57-34 in the rematch, but their best interests are still better served by good defense and controlled offense, like what produced the win last year, not a track meet like ensued in the rematch.
Overall, Arizona has won 59 of the 80 previous meetings, and 32 of 38 in Tucson, including all but 1 game, in 2010, since 1983. Oregon State has upset Arizona a half dozen times when the 'Cats were ranked, including last year's win.