With a defeat on Sunday to the hands of rival Oregon, the Beavers secured the #6 spot in the Pac-12 standings and with the absence of Arizona in the league’s post-season tournament, Oregon State bounced up to grab the #5 seed. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that with that #5 seed comes a match-up against #4 seed UCLA in the first-round, a team that was largely considered the best group in the Pac-12 all-season long, before a recent three-game losing skid took them out of regular season title contention.
It leaves head coach Wayne Tinkle and company with a mighty task - and opportunity - before them as the season hangs in the balance.
Mick Cronin’s guys over in Westwood have relied firmly on massive growth from guard Johnny Juzang (14.2 PPG), who since star Chris Smith was sidelined due to injury, has taken over the leadership role for the Bruins. He’s the top dog on a roster that features five players that average double-figures in scoring, anchored by a fleet of talented back-court options in Jaime Jaquez Jr (11.8 PPG), Tyger Campbell (10.6 PPG) and Jules Bernard (10.0 PPG).
Up-front is where UCLA seems to win-or-lose games more often than not. When he stays in games, Cody Riley (10.3 PPG) hasn’t developed the regular fight needed to be more than just a scorer and Jalen Hill (6.1 PPG) often gets himself lost in games, despite statistically, continuing to find ways to chip in.
The real contrast in this one will come however in style of play, where Oregon State’s methodical approach will have to find ways to work against the Bruins’ more free-styling ways. The Beavers have been playing better, but this UCLA team is a load to handle, especially in crucial game scenarios.
- Date: Thursday, March 11th
- Time: 2:30 PM PT
- Location: T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Coverage: Pac-12 Networks