Earlier today, we outlined five things we felt the Oregon State men’s basketball team needed to tonight in order to beat the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Pac-12 Tournament, and after the Beavers’ 75-66 victory in Las Vegas, it looks like we were pretty accurate in our assessment. OSU came through huge in this game, just as the team needed to with everything on the line.
Playing once again without injured starting forward Tres Tinkle, the Beavers (19-11) got a balanced effort from the whole roster in the big win that basically clinched the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 1990. Oregon State played hard for the whole game, taking a nine-point halftime lead and preserving it throughout the second half against an ASU team trying to reach .500 on the year in order to be eligible for the NIT Invitational. It didn’t happen for the Sun Devils, who finished their season with a 15-17 record.
“We just had to stay focused, locked in like we did down at UCLA,” OSU senior guard Gary Payton II emphasized to the Pac-12 Network right after the game. “We knew they were going to be physical, so we had to be physical on the glass, hit our points and make tough shots for them.”
“Guys stepped up,” Payton added in regards to Tinkle’s absence. “We made plays for each other and got the job done.”
What were our five keys again? Let’s take a peek back and see just how well the Beavers matched up to our formula for victory:
- FG percentage: The Beavers outshot the Sun Devils by five points, 41.2 percent to 36.1 percent, from the floor, and we said they needed to do just that. Check!
- FT percentage: OSU nailed 81.3 percent of their free-throw attempts in this game, easily meeting our 75-percent standard. Check!
- Out-rebound ASU: A few garbage-time offensive boards helped the Sun Devils to a two-rebound edge in the end, but the damage was done for the Beavers already. They did well enough when it mattered.
- Turnover edge: The Sun Devils committed two more turnovers than OSU did, giving the edge to the victors as we said needed to happen. Check!
- 40 minutes: As noted above, the Beavers came out strong and continued the effort through the second half for the win. It may have been the best 40-minute output of the entire season for the team. Check!
In the end, the balance and depth of the Oregon State roster really compensated for Tinkle’s inability to play. Three players not named Gary Payton II scored in double digits; in fact, GP2 was the third-leading scorer on the team tonight with 10 points. Meanwhile Stephen Thompson, Jr. (13 points), Malcolm Duvivier (12) and Jarmal Reid (10) all scored just as much or more than the team’s senior leader. That’s a great sign for tomorrow’s matchup against the California Golden Bears.
GP2 did grab nine rebounds to lead the team, and that has to be a sore spot for this squad. Drew Eubanks was in foul trouble, finishing with just four points and two boards. Olaf Schaftenaar had just one rebound. It’s almost inexcusable for two guys that tall to combine for three rebounds in a game this important. That will have to improve against Cal tomorrow.
“We know the recipe to beat them,” Payton noted about the Golden Bears. “We split with them in the regular season. We have to come out and be physical, and just make it tough like we did tonight.”
The Beavers get a full day to recover from this game before they face No. 24 Cal tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. PT. Tinkle will be a game-time decision again as Oregon State goes for its 20th win of the season.