Civil War in Hoops: Saturday at 5 pm

OREGON STATE HAS been the surprise of the Pac-12 but now the conference slate begins -- and the competition level takes a major step up. The Beavs' schedule opens with a big one right off the bat, with Oregon State taking on Oregon at 5 p.m. on Saturday (ESPNU).

Oregon State (9-3) is 8-0 at home, but 1-3 in road and neutral site games.

Still, after losing virtually all of its scoring from a team that nosedived last year, OSU has shown a relentless defense to go along with an offense that hangs around and can go on a run.

The Beavs are playing above their talent level right now, and confidence can take you a long ways.

The Ducks lead the Pac-12 in scoring, rebounding, and assists and also have a record of 9-3.

The Beavs have been very balanced in scoring, with Gary Payton II (12.5 ppg), Victor Robbins (11.0, pictured above) and Olaf Schaftenaar (10.9) leading the way.

The Beavers also lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense (56.5) and rank No. 11 in the nation in field goal percentage defense (35.5). The big question is how much of that was against lesser competition and how much of it is a harbinger of things to come.

Oregon lost most of its team to graduation and off-court incidents. They haven't jelled yet but they remain explosive.

Joseph Young figures to be the focus of the OSU defense - Young leads the Pac-12 in scoring (19.6) and is No. 4 in assists (4.3).

Oregon has not played anything approaching great defense so you have to figure Oregon State has a chance on the road against a heavily favored Duck squad if they do two simple things: play good defense and hit their share of shots.

Oregon opened as a 10-point favorite over the Beavs.

It's almost a given the Ducks will try to run and run hard against Oregon State. The Beavers are basically employing a seven-man rotation and started this season with just eight players on scholarship.

It naturally follows the especially key to Oregon State's chances at victory will be stopping the Ducks' fast break.

  • Six different Beaver players have held scoring honors through OSU's first 12 games.

  • Malcolm Duvivier has scored in double figures in four straight games.

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