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Video credit: Pac-12 Networks
Scouting report: Oregon State
Game info: 8 p.m. Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena (10,000 capacity).
TV: FSN/ROOT (Justin Kutcher and Marques Johnson).
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Coach: Craig Robinson is 77-83 in his fifth season with the Beavers and 107-111 in seven years as a head coach. Prior to joining OSU in 2008, he spent two years at Brown where he amassed a 30-28 record.
Prediction: Picked to finish eighth in a preseason poll in the Pac-12 by media who cover the conference.
Series: Oregon State has won the past two games, including a victory last year in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Beavers are attempting to get their first regular-season sweep of Washington in 10 years. The Huskies lead 154-138 in a series that began in 1904. Saturday’s game is the 293rd contest between the teams, which is the third longest rivalry in the Pac-12. UW coach Lorenzo Romar is 16-7 against OSU, including a 9-1 record in Seattle. Robinson is 3-8 against the Huskies.
Last meeting: Oregon State dominated the first half, raced ahead to a 10-point half-time lead and held on for a 74-66 win on Jan. 23 at Gill Coliseum. C.J. Wilcox scored a game-high 23 points on 9-for-21 shooting. Abdul Gaddy added 14, Scott Suggs 11 and Aziz N’Diaye finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Five Beavers scored in double figures.
Previous game: Won 67-66 at Washington State on Thursday (video highlights above).
— Not exactly sure why Devin Collier (far right) doesn’t start. You’d think a team hovering around .500 and tied for 10th place in the Pac-12 could find a spot in the lineup for an active 6-8 junior forward who is second on the team with a 13.2 scoring average and tied for second with 6.4 rebounds per game. It’s somewhat mind-boggling because Collier would start for more than half of the teams in the conference.
He could certainly find a spot with the Huskies, who he has dominated in their past few meetings.
Despite Wilcox’s big scoring outing in the Jan. 23 game, Collier was the best player on the court that night. He played 30 minutes and finished with 16 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field and an 8-for-11 performance at the free throw line. He also had seven rebounds – three on the offense end – a game-high five assists and a block.
In OSU’s Pac-12 tourney win against Washington last year, Collier had 19 points and seven rebounds.
He lives inside the painted area where he shoots .506 percent from the field. He’s never taken a three-pointer and ranks amgon the Pac-12 leaders with 23 blocks.
He scored a career-best 27 points against Purdue this season. He also ranks among the Pac-12 leaders with 19 blocked shots.
— Junior guard Roberto Nelson should be a candidate for the Pac-12 Most Improved Player award. Last season he averaged 9.3 points and 20.8 minutes in a reserve role. This season, he’s started every game and leads Oregon State in scoring with 17.1 points per game.
Nelson had big shoes to fill while replacing Jared Cunningham, a first-round NBA pick last summer. The 6-3 junior does his best work at the free throw line where he’s second in the Pac-12 in attempts (146). He’s shooting 77.4 percent at the charity strip.
In the last meeting with Washington, he made 7 of 8 free throws and was 3 of 14 from the field for 15 points in 37 minutes. It was the first time he played well against the Huskies. Last season, he scored a total of 10 points in three games.
Nelson has scored at least 10 in the past 10 games. His career high is 34.
Nelson is also deadly behind the arc where he shoots 43.7 percent. He’s taken at least five three-pointers in the past three games.
— Oregon State is trying to get on a roll and gain some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. The Beavers will likely have to win four games in Las Vegas to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since Gary Payton led them to the Big Dance in 1990.
— Barring a major turnaround, OSU would be lucky to get into a second-tier postseason tourney such as the NIT or the CBI.
—At this point, it would be considered an accomplishment for Robinson to guide the Beavers to a winning record. They haven’t had consecutive winning seasons since 1990. Despite the many disappointments this season, if OSU finishes with more wins than losses, then the Robinson’s seat may not be so warm next season. He signed a one-year extension last year and his contract runs through the 2016-17 season.
— The Beavers’ biggest problem is their defense. They’re last in the Pac-12 allowing conference opponents an average of 72.1 points. OSU has historically been a porous defensive unit, which is odd considering it has two extraordinary shot blockers in sophomore Eric Moreland and Collier.
— OSU’s players don’t mesh well in the traditional sense of building a basketball team. It’s center is 6-7 and 295 pound Joe Burton. He’s also the team’s best playmaker while 5-9 guard Ahmad Starks is a shoot-first-point guard. Sophomore guard Challe Barton is inexperienced and doesn’t provide much statistically. Nelson and Barton are 6-3, which gives OSU one of the shortest three-man guard lineups in the Pac-12.
— Moreland has NBA potential if the 6-10 sophomore forward continues to mature and stay out of trouble. He missed three games due to a team suspension. Moreland is back in the starting lineup, but he hasn’t dominated in Pac-12 play like many believed he would. He averages 9.4 points and 10.7 rebounds.
— Starks is a streaky shooter. He won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award this season averaging 25.5 points in wins over Niagara and New Mexico State. His season high is 33 points. However, in two of the past three games he’s had fewer than six points.
— Oregon State is efficient on the perimeter and in the paint. The Beavers are second in the Pac-12 in three-point percentage (.367) while post players Moreland (.612), Joe Burton (.542) and Collier (.531) are third, sixth and seventh respectively in the conference in field goal percentage.
— Burton is a crafty playmaker who is sixth in the Pac-12 with 47 assists in conference games. He burned Washington with 18 points and seven rebounds last year at Hec Ed. He also had 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in their last meeting.
— Senior Angus Brandt suffered a season-ending knee injury and played just four games. He was averaging 11.3 points and 8.5 rebounds. He’ll apply for a medical-redshirt and should return next season. Newcomer forward Jarmal Reid replaced Brandt in the lineup. He’s the best of OSU’s three-man freshmen class that includes reserves Victor Robbins and Olaf Schaftenaar.
— Sophomore forward Daniel Gomis had season-ending surgery to repair a leg injury.
— Oregon State is 2-5 on the opponent’s home court.
— In their last meeting, the Beavers started Collier and freshman forward Jarmal Reid who had two points and three rebounds. They been replaced and the lineup (below) has started the past four games.
F – Eric Moreland, 6-10, 215, So., 9.4 ppg., 10.7 rpg., 2.5 bpg.
C – Joe Burton, 6-7, 295, Sr., 11.5, 6.4, 3.5 apg.
G – Challe Barton, 6-3, 193, So., 2.4, 1.0, 1.6
G – Roberto Nelson, 6-3, 195, Jr., 17.1, 3.2, 2.6
G – Ahmad Starks, 5-9, 165, Jr., 11.9, 2.3, 2.4
ROBINSON ON OSU:
(Last time I saw you it looked like you turned the corner.) “I thought we were playing the well the last time (OSU played Washington). The interesting thing is that I think we’re still playing well. In that game we played well for 40 minutes. Since then we’ve played well for 38 minutes and lost a couple of close ones. What we’re trying to do is mae sure we finish these games out the way we’re capable of.”
(Is the plan to get things going heading into the conference tournament) “That’s part of it. It’s also to just to get things rolling because we feel like we’re playing well, but we just aren’t finishing well. … Our guys they’re still excited. They still feel like they can win some games in the conference and then be prepared for a very competitive Pac-12 Tournament.”