Game Preview: Oregon State


by: John Chase

Well Thursday was ugly. That’s all I have to say about that. I’m doing my best to forget that game and hope the team is doing the same.

Up next is Oregon State who is coming off a 10 point defeat to WSU. That is rather impressive when one considers the Beavers are ranked in the top 10 in scoring with 81 points per game, a feat they accomplish this by dishing out almost 17 assists per game (12th in the nation). Its hard to imagine the Beavers will shoot as lights out as the Ducks managed on Thursday, but anything can happen as we recently saw.

The team needs to regroup and find that energy and chemistry that won them the past 5 games. Whatever they had during that stretch, they left it on the bus when they arrived late and in a hurry. Everything needs to improve, especially the defensive efforts and the free throws. Its easy to get blown out when you leave 10 to 15 points a night off the board from missed foul shots.

The Beavers possess a ton of scoring potential, but like the Ducks their strength comes mostly from their guards and not their post players. The Beavers are not lacking size, they have 4 players that stand 6-10 to 6-11, but their big men are simply not skilled enough to really do the type of damage they will be capable of in another year or two when they have improved their game.

Jared Cunningham is a very dangerous player who is leading the conference in scoring with over 18 points a night. Cunningham does more than score. Cunningham averages almost 3 assists per game, second only to Joe Burton, grabs 4 rebounds, and averages almost 3 steals a game. Cunningham is making a strong case for Player of the Year, but OSU’s poor conference record may hold him back from earning that title. Cunningham is also, in my mind, a defensive player of the year candidate. Cunningham is an explosive player who has scored 27 points or more four times this season, including a 37 point effort in a 100-95 win over Texas.

Ahmad Starks is tiny, but efficient player with a deadly 3-point shot. Starks has been known to drill 25 and 30 footers with as much ease as a 20 footer. He leads the team in 3-point makes with 55 on the year and is shooting around 35% outside the arc. Inside the paint, Starks struggled to score due to his size and is often pushed around by bigger guards. Starks managed 14 points last time against the Dawgs, but shot only 5 of 15 from the field.

Angus Brandy and Joe Burton are key inside where they combine for nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Burton can be a load to handle at 280lbs, but is fairly nimble and leads the team in assists. They are dangerous players who can score in bunches and the Huskies will need to get good positioning to keep them off the block. Aziz N’Diaye will have his hands full and both Desmond Simmons and Darnell Gant will have to bring their defensive A-games.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:

Oregon State:

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


Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
Tony Wroten 6-5 205lb
Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
Desmond Simmons 6-7 225lb
Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb

Keys to the Game:

  • Free Throws – UW left 15 points off the board against the Ducks with missed free throws. Enough said. It has to change and it has to change now.
  • Rebounding – I can’t imagine the Huskies shooting that poorly again, but should we continue to miss in droves we need to rebound in droves as well and score on the put back.
  • Play Team Basketball – The one similarity in every single loss has been an inability and unwillingness to play as a team, instead opting for one-on-one basketball. It is easy to defend a guy one-on-one with the rest of your team at your back. It’s easy to score when you move the ball, set screens, and execute some semblance of an offense.

Final Thoughts:

This game, like every game, is critical in securing an NCAA bid. Honestly, at this point, our best and likely only chance of getting a bid is by winning the conference tournament for the third straight year. If we continue to rack up blow out losses, it won’t matter if we win the conference title. Mid-majors win their conference all the time and don’t make it in. This year, the Pac-12 is ranked as the 8th or 9th best conference in the nation. That is mid major status. The Dawgs cannot afford to drop any more games and certainly can’t afford anymore egg-on-face type games. A 14-4 record should get us a bid, but if there are 2 or 3 teams in the Pac-12 at 14-4, I guarantee only one will get a bid and right now that bid would go to California who has a game on us and played pretty consistently throughout the year.

I think the Huskies can pull this win out if they find a hot hand. WSU showed Oregon State is beatable at home and even Cunningham racking up 33 points wasn’t enough to bring home the win. One player cannot win a game, but they can be the game changer. Same principle applies to the Huskies. Someone has to get hot and someone has to take charge.

Final Score Prediction: UW-74 OSU-70