Beavers try to make it two in a row
OSU men's basketball face familiar foe in Motum, Washington State on Saturday
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 00:01
Getting their first Pac-12 win in six tries, defeating Washington on Wednesday night, the monkey is officially off Oregon State’s back.
The Beavers (11-8, 1-5 Pac-12) just need to keep it from hopping back on when they take on Washington State (10-9, 1-5) in Gill Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Craig Robinson isn’t ready to proclaim the Beavers as over the hump just yet.
“I’d like to hope so, but we’ll have to wait and see,” Robinson said. “Maybe there isn’t a monkey on our back, maybe we just needed to play a couple games to play well. I want to wait and reserve that to see how we play on Saturday.”
Last season the Beavers and Cougars met four times — twice during conference play, once in the Pac-12 Tournament and once in the College Basketball Invitational — with WSU winning three of those four. The only OSU win came in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Washington State senior Brock Motum has historically been nothing but trouble for Oregon State. In the two regular season games against the Beavers last season, Motum averaged 25 points and 8.5 rebounds. Stopping him — the third leading scorer in conference, with 18.8 points per game — will be key for the Beavers to get two straight wins.
“We’ve got to focus on him,” Robinson said. “He makes me very nervous. He’s a really good basketball player and he has improved his game a whole lot this season.”
Sophomore forward Eric Moreland expects to guard Motum the majority of the game.
“He’s a dominant left hand, so you gotta try to play him to the right a little bit,” Moreland said. “He stretches the floor and you’ve just got to be in his shirt pretty much the whole time.”
Moreland, who is second in the Pac-12 in rebounds and blocks per game, along with field goal percentage, has been a huge boost for the Beavers since returning from a three-game suspension two games ago against USC. The 6-foot-10 sophomore picked up his eighth double-double of the season on Wednesday against the Huskies, with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“[In] the first game I was really trying to get back in the flow of things. [In] the second game I felt like I could do that a little bit more, I felt a little bit more comfortable with the home crowd,” Moreland said. “It just felt good to come back and help the team.”
Against the Huskies, Oregon State saw its five best players — Ahmad Starks, Roberto Nelson, Moreland, Devon Collier and Joe Burton — score in double figures for the first time since Dec. 31. Their play was a huge reason for the Beavers’ win.
“We’re a lot more confident now,” Nelson said. “Definitely getting that win means a lot to us, working as hard as we have, to see it progress.”
Those five averaged 32.8 minutes against WSU, but Robinson expects to go to the bench more against the Cougars.
“I don’t think we’ll have a lot of games where we play them that many minutes, but since we had an extra day off I thought I’d let it ride since they were playing so well,” Robinson said.
Getting their first Pac-12 win was huge for the Beavers, but now OSU has to try and win two in a row since defeating Howard and the University of San Diego on Dec. 19 and Dec. 22, respectively.
Robinson is hoping the Beavers can garner some momentum from their win against the Huskies.
“You want to use that as a launching pad for the next game, which makes the next game the most important game,” Robinson said.
Washington State might be No. 11 in the Pac-12 standings right now, but with the Beavers in the No. 10 slot, Robinson knows a win on Saturday won’t come easy.
“I think in this league, anybody is capable of beating anybody if you’re playing your best game and they’re not playing their best game,” Robinson said.
On Wednesday, the Beavers played one of their best games of the year against a Washington team that just couldn’t get it going. They’ll need that same effort to beat the Cougars on Saturday.
Alex Crawford, sports reporter