This has been the “it” game for Washington during the last two weeks. The Huskies win a game in the conference tournament and they can feel confident about getting an NCAA tournament berth. The Dawgs will be matched up with the only team in the conference that can match their length and athleticism, Oregon State. The Beavers threatened to blow open their game against Washington State in the first round before the Cougars fought back, leading to an eventual 69-64 OSU victory.
Noon. PST. ROOT Sports. Staples Center.
Washington Huskies (21-9; 14-4) Oregon State Beavers (19-13; 7-11)
Breaking Down Oregon State
If you are currently reading this I’m going to assume you know what Oregon State is about. The Beavers are long, athletic and can put points on the board. Jared Cunningham makes this team click and is one of the best players in the conference. Cunningham led the league with 18.2 points and 2.6 steals per game.
The Dawgs wore down OSU with a fast-paced tempo in Seattle, resulting in a 95-80 win for UW. I had the pleasure of sitting in the third row for this game and was able to experience Oregon State’s length firsthand. Eric Moreland is a freak of nature. I would not be surprised if his arms outreached Aziz’s. Tony Wroten absolutely abused OSU with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in his Pac-12 debut.
UW completed their regular season sweep of OSU in Corvallis by eeking out a 75-72 win. The Beavers forced someone other than Wroten to beat them and Terrence Ross stepped up with a double-double (21 points and 13 boards). OSU seemed determined to keep Wroten out of the lane and gave him a large cushion from the outside. The Huskies struggled to keep Jared Cunningham off the line, as he went 7-8 from the stripe. Oregon State was able to capitalize on many UW mental gaffes for easy fast-break layups. Washington struggled from the field offensively, shooting just 35% as the offense stalled throughout the first half.
Keys to the Game
Tony Wroten: The glaring difference between the two games these two teams played this year (besides location) is Wroten’s presence. Oregon State made a large adjustment between the first two games and was willing to give Tone 15 footers in Corvallis. This resulted in forced shots from Wroten, who finished 4-12 from the field. The heralded freshman shines under the bright lights and March is officially in full swing.
Jared Cunningham: Cunningham is far and away the most talented player on Oregon State and is the only player in the conference on Wroten and Ross’ level. He is a constant one-man fast break threat and is the go-to-guy for OSU when the offense breaks down.
Ball Movement: The Huskies struggled mightily in Coravallis with their ball movement, dishing out just 9 assists on 23 made baskets. The Beavers played a matchup zone for the majority of the game and it gave UW fits. Oregon State wants to run but is very capable of forcing UW into a half-court battle.
Romar’s Adjustments: OSU’s matchup zone seemed to baffle UW offensively. Romar has had plenty of time to try and figure out how to run an offense against a zone (years upon years) and hopefully he has at least a basic gameplan to attack the zone.
The Huskies have a huge opportunity to get into a “groove” in this game if the tempo is pushed. In a tournament that has 3 games in 3 days, this is an excellent chance for the Dawgs to get hot before the Pac-12’s version of the Final Four. Washington knows how important this game is and will capitalize. OSU starts fast but allows the Huskies to stay in the game and pull out the 83-73 win.