OSU 82, Utah 64: Fired-up Beavers dismantle Utes
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 04:02
Although Joe Burton and Roberto Nelson had said the Oregon State men’s basketball team wasn’t desperate, it sure looked like the Beavers were on Wednesday night.
OSU (12-11, 2-8 Pac-12) played with a sense of urgency not yet seen in Gill Coliseum this season, defeating Utah, 82-64.
Nelson credited Utah’s Jarred DuBois for getting the Beavers fired up after he threw an elbow — unseen by the refs — into Nelson’s stomach about 90 seconds into the game.
“I think tonight we came out with a lot of fire because [DuBois] had a — I don’t want to say cheap shot, it’s all part of the game, I understand what he was doing, but I’m glad he did it because it got us riled up,” Nelson said.
Head coach Craig Robinson said he was surprised the refs didn’t call a foul on the play, but added that the Beavers would have played must-win basketball regardless of the incidence.
“When you’re 1-8, you just come ready to play, but I couldn’t believe that that happened,” Robinson said. “Listen, if it helped fire us up, that’s good. I liked our response to it and the guys just weren’t going to back down.”
Despite the gut shot, Nelson was the scoring leader for OSU with 26 points on only 10 field goal attempts while going 9-for-9 from the free throw line. It was his third straight game scoring at least 20 points.
“I was lucky to make all my free throws tonight,” Nelson said. “I’ve been kind of struggling with free throws this year. I just think that when I was making free throws it kind of gave me a little more confidence to take shots.”
With 17 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists, Burton almost became the second Beaver ever to record a triple-double.
“I really don’t think about my stats a lot, just trying to get the win,” Burton said. “When we’re up is when we’re playing well and I’m playing well, so it’s a good thing we got the win.”
Both Burton and Robinson were more pleased with the senior’s defensive efforts against Utah center Jason Washburn, who entered the game averaging 11 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Burton held Washburn to two points on 1-of-4 shooting.
“Everybody’s going to talk about his offensive game, but I want to point out the fact that he held Jason Washburn to one basket, and it might have happened when Joe wasn’t even on him,” Robinson said. “When you’ve got a 6’7” center playing against a 6’10” center who’s a prolific scorer, that sort of anchors your defense.”
OSU had one of its best defensive efforts of the season, holding Utah (10-12, 2-8) to a 35.7 percent field goal percentage. The Beavers also grabbed more boards than their opponent for the third straight game, outrebounding Utah by eight.
“We were doing well at [rebounding] prior to the start of the conference,” Robinson said. “I thought not having Eric [Moreland] was a big part of [our struggles]. We’re getting our sea legs under us, basically. This team has rebounded better than any team I’ve coached, so I think we’re just getting back on track.”
This game was the Beavers’ largest margin of victory since Dec. 31, when they defeated Texas-Pan American, 84-59. Coming into Wednesday night, the Utes were only giving up an average of 60.9 points per game. OSU’s 82 points were the second most scored against Utah all season.
“I think when we win by a large margin like that we play well, we play together, we have trust, we just go all out for 40 minutes,” Burton said. “It’s good to get our second win in conference, but we still have a lot of games left.”
Alex Crawford, sports reporter
On Twitter: @dr_crawf