Game Preview: Oregon State


Editor’s Note: Due to the fact that all of us contributors here are either on vacation or watching the bowl game, for our post game report we will make it a community event. If you watch or attend the game, post your thoughts in the comments section of the “post game report” and I will copy and paste it into one big review. This should be very fun. On to the preview. 

by: John Chase

Sorry for the lack of coverage lately. Winter break is in full force meaning a lot of family time and going out with friends I don’t see most of the year. Unfortunately, I really won’t have a post game review for this game. Somehow the UW athletic department allowed themselves to schedule this game at the EXACT same time as the Alamo Bowl. My priority normally goes to basketball, but in this case I gotta watch the Bowl game. Hopefully I can link a few game reviews and get reader feedback from anyone who watches the game.

The Beavers are looking pretty solid this season after several disappointing finishes the past few seasons.  OSU comes into the conference opener with a 10-2 record and a streak of 4 straight wins, their latest coming against the Chicago State Cougars. The Beavers played a tight one against then #22 Vanderbilt, losing 64-62. Their other loss came against Idaho with a 74-60 score.

OSU is led by Jared Cunningham, without a doubt. Cunningham is a leading Pac-12 POY candidate and has had some monstrous games this season. In one week he had a 35 and 37 point game. He has been held to single digit scoring only twice this season, both games were OSU losses. The key to beating Oregon State? Shutting down Cunningham. He leads the team in scoring with 16.8 per game. Cunningham also snatches up around 4 rebounds per game, dishing out 3 assist and 2.4 turnovers per game. He also is one of the top defenders in the conference averaging a staggering 3 steals per game. The trick to shutting down Cunningham is forcing him to play outside the key. Cunningham is 11-46 on year outside the arc, while his inside presence can be absolutely vicious. He is a moderate free throw shooter, hitting a bit over 75% on the season.

OSU is a very balanced and seemingly talented team. Their youth last year has been turning into experience this season and is paying off in dividends. The Beavers receive significant contributions from 6 players outside of Cunningham, with each of those 6 scoring at least 5 points per game.

Cunningham is supported in the backcourt by “5-9” Ahmad Starks (I put it in quotations because he makes I.T. look tall and I.T. was measured by the NBA at 5-9) and 6-3 Roberto Nelson. Starks is third in scoring with 12.5 points per game and is shooting an impressive 39% from deep (18-28). Starks is also a perfect 18-18 from the charity stripe. Maybe he can give our guys a few pointers during the pregame warmups. Starks is ineffective inside, but give him room on the outside and his high arcing shot can do some serious damage. Starks has had three games with at least four 3-point makes.

Nelson comes in with a bit over 11 points per outing on top of 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2.5 turnovers a night. Nelson is another dangerous 3-point shooter who thrives on receiving the outlet pass after a drive by Cunningham. Nelson is shooting 44% behind the arc and has made 20 of his 46 attempts. Nelson is a scrappy guard who started the season slow with five straight games of 5 points or less. Since then, Nelson has scored at least 11 in every game and has two 20+ point games thus far. Nelson’s higher scoring games follow solid outside shooting nights. Nelson tends to be the first man off the bench and receivers starter minutes.

The OSU frontcourt is decent in its own right. Devon Collier stands at 6-7 and is second in scoring for the Beavers. Collier brings in 14 points and 5 rebounds a game. He is a very solid shooter from short to mid-range, but struggles at the line. Collier is averaging around 7 FT attempts per game and knows how to draw a foul. This is not necessarily a bad thing due to the fact he has made only 58% of his attempts. In crunch time this could prove to be a huge factor.

Angus Brandt is a 6-10 237lb F-C who likes to play quite mobile, taking shots inside the paint and outside the arc. Brandt is a very respectable 9-18 from deep and is a definite threat when given space and time. The key to preventing Brandt from taking deep shots is tight, pressure defense. Brandt tends to be more comfortable from longer distances as shown by his sub-par rebounding stats that do not make sense give his size. Brandt is only averaging 2.8 rebounds per game. The majority of the Beaver rebounding comes from 6-7 280lb Joe Burton and  6-10 201lb Eric Moreland.

Joe Burton is a big, big body that uses size rather than speed to make his move. Burton averages about 6.4 rebounds per game and has only attempted 6 outside shots, making 3. He is a better player in the paint, making around 50% of his shots and hitting 70% at the line. As much as I like the 4 guard line-up, Burton’s size combined with Brandt’s height demand Aziz N’Diaye to reenter the starting 5. Expect Darnell Gant to cover Brandt, while N’Diaye bodies up against Burton.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:

Oregon State:

Ahmad Starks 5-9 165lb
Jared Cunningham 6-4 194lb
Devon Collier 6-7 206lb
Joe Burton 6-8 280lb
Angus Brandt 6-10 237lb


Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb (Don’t be surprised if Tony Wroten replaces Gaddy in the starting 5)
C.J. Wilcox 6-5 190lb
Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
Darnell Gant 6-8 230lb
Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb

Keys to the Game:


OSU averages around 36 boards per game, while UW has been picking up around 41. With several strong 3-point shooters, OSU presents a challenge to the Husky team to collect every board they can. If the Dawgs allow OSU to gather up 10 or more offensive boards, the Huskies could very well find themselves looking at a big deficit due to outside shots raining in.


This may seem broad and pretty obvious, but it is something the Huskies have struggled with, especially against teams with tough backcourts. OSU is in the top 10 for both points per game with 84 and assists with nearly 19 per night. The Beavers thrive on play making through passing rather than creating opportunities for themselves. If the Huskies can press early and hard, while preventing easy passes and wide open looks, their athleticism should help them prevail.

Ball Control:

This is another category that the Huskies have been on a roller coaster with, either dishing out a bunch of assists or turning it over every other possession. OSU averages 10 steals per game and force 20 turnovers per game. That is an extreme amount and is a testament to the brutal defense the Beavers put out on the court. Wroten will need to be very mindful of this and keep his risky passes to a minimum. To avoid turnovers the Huskies will need to run a fast offense with a lot of screens to lose their defender.

Final Thought:

This is a dangerous match-up for the Huskies. Hec-Ed has been kind to the Dawgs, but with a large majority of Husky fans opting to watch the Alamo Bowl, the home game feel likely won’t be there. The Dawgs cannot let this get to them and need to bring the type of game that nearly beat Marquette and stayed half competitive with Duke. If the Dawgs can execute and run an efficient offense I see no reason why they cannot win this game. That being said, this will likely be a close and stressful game.

Final Score Prediction:

UW-84 OSU-80