(CORVALLIS)—The Oregon State men’s basketball team suffered a surprising loss last week at home against Valparaiso University, and tonight, the Beavers take the floor at Gill Coliseum for the first time since then. They were expected to reach their December 12th matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks undefeated, but now Oregon State will have to regroup and reboot their out-of-conference expectations for the season.
It’s early in the season still, so the Beavers only can hope now that the Crusaders go on to win 20-plus games. Otherwise, losing to a mid-major school at home doesn’t look so good in the Oregon State portfolio come NCAA Tournament selection time next March. The Beavers doomed themselves by shooting only 37.5 percent from the floor against Valpo, while also getting out-rebounded by eight boards.
Oregon State Head Coach Wayne Tinkle knows there’s room for improvement.
“They were a very mature, very tough veteran team,” he said of the Crusaders after the loss. “It just exposed some of our early weaknesses. But it is early, and we’ll work on those things.”
Tonight, the Loyola Marymount Lions come to Gill, and the Beavers will be ready for them. The Lions are 4-2 this season, with losses already to Colorado State and UC Irvine. LMU plays in the West Coast Conference with Gonzaga and St. Mary’s (CA) every year, so they’re used to see NCAA Tournament-level competition, and this will be a good gauge for the Beavers to see if they’ve learned any lessons from the Valpo loss.
In that loss, Gary Payton II took 25 of the team’s 56 shots from the floor, and no other Oregon State player attempted more than eight shots. While Payton hit 11 of his shots and scored 25 points while grabbing 11 rebounds, the rest of the team didn’t do much. The other nine Beavers grabbed only 16 rebounds among them, and no one else scored in double digits.
Payton can’t be a one-man team if Oregon State wants to make March Madness for the first time since since his dad played here. Surely, the other players know this, and Payton will get them more involved in the flow of the game tonight against the Lions.
As for LMU, their breakout player so far this year is freshman guard Brandon Brown, averaging 14.2 points per game and 5.3 assists. Freshman forward Adom Jacko is adding 13.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Joshua Spiers is tossing in 10 points per game, and sophomore transfer Steven Haney adds 8.5 points a contest.
The Beavers have a good chance to re-establish their inside game against the Lions, and if LMU collapses its defense to over defend, Oregon State’s big men must be ready to kick the ball out to the perimeter for open looks. Either way, the Beavers can’t afford another home loss to a mid-major squad, so they better have learned in the eight days since the Valpo defeat.
Game time tonight is 7:06 p.m.