As the week started for the Oregon St. Beavers, it started to look like this would finally be the week they'd break through and start making their run for the conference title. The Beavers won a huge home game with conference favorites Cal after shooting the lights out, then hung on for four incredible overtimes before finally succumbing to Stanford.
It wasn't to be. Instead, here they stand at 1-5 in Pac-12 play and 0-4 in road contests, conference title chances almost thoroughly dashed. If you want a clue, Ahmad Starks and Jared Cunningham had rough shooting weeks, and that usually isn't good news for the Beavers.
The Beavers seem to have committed to a new philosophy under Craig Robinson. Score, score, score. The Beavers certainly do have enough athleticism to do that, and push the pace as frequently as possible. But at the same time they give up a lot of points right back to the opposition, as the Beavers seem to struggle to switch between their man-to-man defense and their usual 1-3-1 zone and end up getting burned easily by patient offenses that take their time. The result seems to be Oregon State always being in a dogfight with their opponent regardless of how productive their offense is.
Kyle Fogg's layin tied the game again at 72-72 with 12 seconds left, but the Beavers had the ball and 2 timeouts, needing only a single point to put the game away. However, yet another episode of end of game mismanagement, something that happened time and again in Oregon St.'s 4 overtime 103-101 loss to Stanford last Saturday, occurred.
For whatever reason, Oregon St. coach Craig Robinson left his multiple remaining time outs on the board, and the Beavers, instead of attempting to get a higher percentage 2 point shot, or draw a foul, settled for a 3 pointer. And it came too late to get a rebound or putback.
Starks, who had made Oregon St.'s last 10 points, but had hit only one shot from the field all night before his one-man rally, hoisted a three pointer that rattled out, and the Beavers were facing overtime once again.
Oregon State scored one point in overtime. Bet you a million dollars Arizona didn't put up a bagel.
The Beavers did a good job winning the rebounding battle slightly and forcing more turnovers, but their offense deserted them against an improving Arizona defense. The Beavers shot 40% from the field while allowing Arizona to shoot 47%, but more importantly a red hot 12 of 22 from downtown thanks to Kyle Fogg and bench players. It was enough to carry the Wildcats to an overtime victory.
It didn't get much better on Saturday, as Arizona State--a team that hasn't scored 70 points in two months--hit 76. This 76 point performance came from a team that just lost their point guard and turned the ball over 21 times. Nevertheless, the Sun Devils still managed to stroke a pretty incredible 59% from the field and 53% from downtown. And ASU's noticeably lacking three point defense turned in a banner performance, holding Starks to 2 for 10 and Roberto Nelson to 2 for 7 from behind the arc. Meanwhile, the mythical Chanse Creekmur buried six of seven threes to help engineer a surprising upset for the Devils and Trent Lockett looked much more assured running the point than he did Saturday.
Oregon State could still recover and manage a winning record in-conference. But it'll be too late to win the Pac-12, and probably too late to earn an at-large bid. It's looking like Pac-12 tournament or bust now.
The good news is these Beavers might have the roster that could win three in a row in three nights, so it's not over yet for them. At least they know they can score.