Oregon State Preview

The Pac-12 regular season comes to a close on Saturday when the Arizona State Sun Devils (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12) head to Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers (15-14, 7-10) on Saturday afternoon.

Oregon State's record may cause the casual observer to look right past them but the Beavers are on the cusp of taking their program to the next level. They've lost their last two games by a combined 10 points at UCLA and then at home against Arizona. An incredibly physical team with an elite wing scorer in Roberto Nelson means that they will never be an easy out. Against Arizona, the Beavers fell 74-69 in a tight back and forth clash. Nelson finished with 25 points while Devon Collier put up 14 points and 11 rebounds. One guy to keep an eye on is Hallice Cooke; after a cold stretch, Cooke got into a rhythm against UofA and will look to build on that momentum.

ASU walked into a buzz saw on Tuesday night when they fell to Oregon, 85-78. In a game that wasn't as close as the final margin indicated, the Ducks controlled the tempo all night long and pushed their winning streak to six while extending ASU's road losing streak to four games. Jahii Carson scored 28 points and rediscovered his shooting stroke in the process while Jermaine Marshall added 16 of his own. ASU was great from deep knocking down 12 treys but couldn't score inside the arc and Oregon had an answer for everything in the second half. Mike Moser put up a monster performance with 22 points and 17 boards.

In what has been a common theme this season, ASU beat OSU in overtime after failing to hold onto a solid second half lead. Jermaine Marshall put up 25 points, many of them late in the game, while Jordan Bachynski scored 17 points with 15 boards and seven blocks. Roberto Nelson almost willed the Beavers to victory with 26 points and all but two of those coming after halftime.

With Selection Sunday coming quickly, ASU is probably safe but they could eliminate the ‘probably' from conversation with a victory over the Beavers. With conference tournaments getting underway, there is too much unpredictability with mid-major favorites needing to win their respective tournaments so fewer at-large bids get snaked.

Head Coach:

Craig Robinson: 6th season at OSU – 92-102; 122-130 career

Herb Sendek: 8th season at ASU – 141-118; 397-275 career

Projected Starters:

G – Hallice Cooke (7.6 PPG, 2.4 APG) vs. Jahii Carson (18.7 PPG, 4.4 APG)

G – Roberto Nelson (20.8 PPG, 40% 3PT) vs. Jermaine Marshall (15.7 PPG, 42% 3PT)

F – Langston Morris-Walker (4.2 PPG, 38% 3PT) vs. Shaq McKissic (8.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG)

F – Eric Moreland (7.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG) vs. Eric Jacobsen (2.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG)

C – Angus Brandt (12.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG) vs. Jordan Bachynski (11.3 PPG, 4.3 BPG)

Why OSU Can Win:

The Beavers possess one of the most physical frontcourts in college basketball with Devon Collier, Angus Brandt and Eric Moreland all capable of taking over a game in the paint while also having great shooters on the perimeter in Cooke and Nelson. Not since Gary Payton donned the black and orange has a Beaver led the conference in scoring and that drought will snap on Saturday when Nelson captures the crown this season; a very aggressive guard with enough size to compete in traffic and enough touch to shoot from anywhere on the floor and be within range. OSU can pull out the win if they can get ASU on their heels early and control the pace of the game. Also wouldn't hurt them if they got hot from deep.

Why ASU Can Win:

Jahii Carson made four of five from deep on Tuesday night – if the electric point guard can find consistency from deep, that will make the Devils an extremely dangerous team moving forward, not just on Saturday but heading into tournament play. What makes this team beatable is when the frontcourt gets throttled and forces ASU to go small and become too reliant on three-pointers. Against Oregon, Eric Jacobsen was ineffective and ASU reverted back to a 4-guard set to try to match the Ducks tempo. For ASU to come out of Corvallis with a victory, they have to be the team that has gotten them here: let Carson and Bachynski get into a productive pitch and catch with Jermaine Marshall finding as many open shots and open lanes as he can. If just one of the McKissic, Gilling or Barnes trio can heat up in the process, ASU is hard to beat.

Key Stat: From ASU's SID office, in 28 road/neutral games, Jahii Carson is averaging 21.1ppg with his six highest scoring outputs coming away from Tempe. That is good news for ASU as the Devils aren't playing at home again this year and will need all the confidence they can gather while playing in unfamiliar territory.

X-Factor: Jordan Bachysnki; after a four game stretch in which the senior big scored only 19 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks spanning over 96 minutes – Bachynski showed signs of life against Oregon with a 13 point, 11 rebound and five block effort and will need to build on that momentum heading into the last few weeks of his college career.

Final Score: ASU 73 OSU 70

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