Oregon State bounced back after playing their worst game of the year Thursday night against Arizona State in Tucson, but 18th ranked Arizona also bounced back on Saturday night, after losing their first game in their last 50 at the McKale Center, also on Thursday night. And unfortunately for the Beavers, the 'Cats bounced back better.
Arizona needed a career night from Gabe York, but that's just what they got, as York hit a career best 6 3 pointers on his way to a career high 24 points, including the exclamation mark dunk on the 'Cats 80-63 win.
Back to back 'Cat 3s got Arizona off to a fast start, and forced Oregon State Coach Wayne Tinkle into a timeout not 5 minutes into the game, but back to back Beaver 3s by Tres Tinkle and Langston Morris-Walker started a 10-0 OSU run that got the Beavers back in front.
The lead was short lived though, as Arizona wrapped 3 consecutive made 3s, 2 by York, around a Drew Eubanks dunk, opening a 30-22 lead.
Olaf Schaftenaar, above (USA Today photo via SBN), who hadn't hit more than 1 3 pointer in any conference game this year, hit a couple of them to keep Oregon State in the game though, and down only 34-30 at the break.
"We had a good flurry, but so did Oregon State," Arizona Coach Sean Miller said. "We have a hard time defending anyone right now."
Holding Oregon State to 39% first half shooting, and just 30 points, wasn't bad defense by any stretch, but Miller's remarks are understandable, given that the 'Cats recent run of 4 Sweet-16 or better seasons, and consecutive Pac-12 Conference titles, were built first and foremost on defense, and the upset loss to Oregon was the first time since 1997 that a Pac-12 team that shot above 60% at home hadn't been good enough to win.
York was already on his way to a big night by the break, with 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting from 3 point range, and W. Tinkle identified that as the Beavers' priority for the second half.
"We have to do a better job on Gabe York in our zone," was Tinkle's summation.
And the Beavers infact were successful at that for the first half of the second half.
Another 3 by Schaftenaar and a Gary Payton II III pulled Oregon State to within 2, down just 40-38, but Ryan Anderson answered with a 2+1 3, which included Drew Eubanks' 3rd personal foul, and led to a season high of 24 minutes played by Daniel Gomis.
It also started a 7-0 Arizona run, but just as the 'Cats appeared ready to run the Beavers out, Oregon State rallied again with a 7-0 run of their own.
Another basket by Schaftenaar and a 2 and a 3 by T. Tinkle pulled the Beavers within 49-47, and forced Miller and the 'Cats into using their 3rd timeout with still over 13 1/2 minutes to go.
The timeout that mattered was the under 12 media timeout that followed shortly thereafter though.
Oregon State got within 2 once again on Morris-Walker's basket, but York finally found his way into the open again for a 3, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, quiet up until then, exploded.
The Arizona 6th man got a steal for a basket and then buried a 3 pointer to cap a 10-0 run, and open a 12 point lead, the largest of the night up to that point.
Stephen Thompson, Oregon State's 6th man answered with a 3 pointer, but Ryan Anderson responded with the basket that produced his 10th double double of the season. Schaftenaar sank a career best 4th 3, but York responded with his career best 6th 3, as the 'Cats continued to keep the Beavers at arms' length.
Parker-Cartwright continued to cause problems for Oregon State, drawing a charge on T. Tinkle for his 4th foul with still over 6 1/2 minutes to go, and another 7-0 Arizona run expanded to lead to 15, with the 'Cats up 70-55 with 5:55 left.
Oregon State would never cut the deficit to single digits the rest of the way, and York's exclamation dunk, above, (USA Today image via SBN) produced a 19 point lead, the largest of the game, a couple of seconds before Derrick Bruce's only points of the game produced the 80-63 final.
The Wildcat win was Miller's 300th coaching victory.
"It means a lot," Miller said, "because we do this together, as a team. And when young men like Gabe come here, it's a lot easier than it is at some other places."
York's 24 points led all scorers, and his 6 made 3s was also a game high.
"We shared the ball really well," York said. "My teammates found me when I found my way through the 2-3 zone."
Andersen finished with 13 points, and a game high 12 rebounds.
T. Tinkle led Oregon State with 16 points, and Schaftenaar was right behind, with 14 points, on 4 of 8 shooting from 3 point range. It was his best game of the season.
GP II got in a high-light dunk, but Arizona was generally able to keep him from ever getting going.
Payton was again held out of double digits, with only 9 points, and 11 for the trip to the desert, but he had a team high 7 rebounds, and 6 assists.
That underscored the other key stat of the game besides York's offensive explosion compared to GP II lack of one. Arizona out-rebounded Oregon State severely, 19 to 14 in the first half, on their way to a 35 to 24 overall edge on the glass.
Jackson-Cartwright finished with 10 points, edging Thompson, who ended up with 9, for the Motel 6 man of the game award.
Miller's landmark win improved Arizona to 17-5 for the season, and 5-4 in the Pac-12, which puts the 'Cats in 6th in the conference race, but only 1 1/2 games behind conference leading Oregon, though the Ducks do own the tiebreaker, since the Arizona schools won't be returning the trip to the state of Oregon this season.
Oregon State, having been swept in the desert after their 86-68 loss to Arizona State, drop to 12-8 for the year, and 3-6 in the Pac-12, and are alone in 10th place.
The Beavers have now lost 5 of their last 6, and 10 conference contests in a row on the road, and haven't beaten a ranked team on the road in now 31 years.
"We responded; we were not ourselves the other night tonight," W. Tinkle said. "We are not into moral victories, but we showed some life. Our guys stood toe-to-toe with them for 30 minutes, but we have to put 40 minutes together on the road. We've got to approach road games like they are winnable. That's the culture change we need to make."
That change will have to wait a couple of weeks at best though, as Oregon State returns home for a weekend series against the mountain schools next, beginning with a visit from Utah, 24 point winners over Stanford today, late Thursday night, followed by a visit from Colorado next Saturday evening.
That culture change better get figured out though, as the Beavers will then hit the road for 3 in a row, and 5 of their last 7 games before the Pac-12 tournament.