Game Preview: Oregon State


by: John Chase

OSU won its play in game against WSU earlier today with a final score of 69-64. OSU held a huge lead early, hitting several big 3-pointers before Ken Bone coached his team back into a competitive game. Late game free throws sealed the deal for the Beavers, sending the Cougars back to cold and snowy Pullman with their tails between their legs. The biggest surprise of the night? Not that OSU won, but that they won despite Jared Cunningham, the league leading scorer, only managed 4 points on the night with a dismal 1 of 8 shooting performance in 38 minutes.

Devon Collier and Ahmad Starks got the game going early for the Beavers and Joe Burton came off the bench to contribute in a big way. Burton scored 5 of his 15 in the final minutes, 3 coming off of free throws. The Beavers attempted 13 more foul shots and made 8 more than the Cougs. Neither team shot better than 62% from the charity strip, but both did manage 44% field goal shooting.

In the two match ups against the Beavers this season, the Dawgs have played two very different games. In the first at Hec-Ed, the Huskies dominated from the start and cruised to a 15 point lead. Down in Corvallis the Huskies had to fight and scrap their way to a 3 (would have been 5 if not for a last second, non-consequential shot by Cunningham) point win.

The Huskies will need to keep their eye on Starks tomorrow afternoon as Starks started an amazing 4 of 6 from deep in the first half, but did not score another field goal the rest of the game. UW held Starks to a combined 4 of 12 from behind the arc in the two match-ups, but will need to slightly improve this number to avoid a potential upset or high scoring night from the diminutive guard.

The Huskies were able to hold Cunningham to 7 of 20 shooting in the first meeting of the season, but allowed Cunningham to get to the line for 8 shots, of which he made 7. The second time around, Cunningham was a much better 6 of 9 from the field. The moral of the story is that Cunningham will get his points, especially after the poor performance he had this evening. The Huskies need to aim to control his scoring, rather than try to shut him down completely.

The big men inside have done the most damage to the Huskies. Devon Collier continued to have success against the Dawgs no matter the location and Angus Brandt found himself with a respectable amount of points and boards on both occasions. Joe Burton propped up a huge 18 at home in Oregon, but was held scoreless in Seattle. Expect all three to be working hard inside to get their dues. Aziz N’Diaye and the Husky bigs will be hard pressed to contain all three throughout the game. If Starks is out, don’t be too surprised to see the Dawgs drop into a zone to limit the touches inside.

The most comforting part of this match-up is that the Dawgs won both games while their two best shooters, Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox, had fairly cold nights. Ross went a combined 11 of 32 from the field (1 of 8 outside), while Wilcox was 8 of 24 (3 of 12 from range). If Wilcox and Ross can get their shots back on track and find the type of success they have had in recent games, the Huskies have a much better shot of getting an early lead and keeping it.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:

Oregon State:
Ahmad Starks, 5-9 165lb
Jared Cunningham, 6-4 194lb
Devon Collier, 6-7 206lb
Erik Moreland, 6-10 201lb
Angus Brandt, 6-10 237lb

Abdul Gaddy, 6-3 185lb
Tony Wroten, 6-5 205lb
Terrence Ross, 6-6 195lb
Darnell Gant, 6-8 230lb
Aziz N’Diaye, 7-0 260lb

Keys to the Game:

  • Get Hot Early – Too many games this season have been slow starts followed by stellar performances. The Dawgs need to get down and dirty on defense, while also finding success with their shots. The Beavers are a high scoring team that can keep pace with the Huskies run-and-gun tempo. If the Dawgs want to get a shot at the NCAA tournament, they will need to start by proving they are a high octane offense tomorrow afternoon.
  • Rebounding – The Beaver bigs are good at throwing their weight around in the post, which results in a fair amount of rebounds. The Dawgs tend to be better than anyone in the league and if poor outside shooting persists, rebounds will be a must. Things have been improving outside for the Huskies as the health of Wilcox improves. That could be huge as the Beavers are known for their 1-3-1 defense, a defense that is prone to 3-pointers near the top of the perimeter.
  • Free Throws – The Dawgs need to hit the freebies, plain and simple. OSU can be a solid team at the line and foul shots have won a few games for the Dawgs this season. The Husky guards often get hacked up inside without any fouls headed their way so the team needs to capitalize on the limited attempts they are given. No need to throw away a big lead because we can’t hit the easy ones.

Final Thoughts:

It’s a good thing the OSU-WSU game stayed tight. This meant more minutes for Cunningham and Starks, two dangerous players, and hopefully more tired legs in the quick turnaround the Beavers face.

The Beavers have a mere 24 hours between games whereas the Huskies have been afforded the all important bye that allows more rest and preparation. I fully expect a bounce back from Cunningham regardless of minutes played, but the Dawgs can learn from what the Cougars did well to hopefully limit Cunningham’s impact on the game.

After losing in somewhat embarrassing fashion to the Bruins, the Dawgs should be looking for blood. The Huskies will likely need to win 1, if not 2, games in this tournament to secure an at-large bid. A slip up here could place the Huskies in the play-in game, if they are in the tournament at all. I think this team is focused and ready for anything. Let’s hope they play like it.

Final Score Prediction: UW-84 OSU-79