OSU searches for answers headed into Saturday

WHEN OREGON STATE actually stays within their offense and defense, as they did against Oregon last weekend, they can be competitive on the hardcourt. When they go away from that and start looking to drive to the hoop without numbers, or look to launch a too-quick three, the results are predicatble, such as the 81-45 defeat to Arizona on Thursday night. The regular season finale now looms large.

Oregon State will need to upset Arizona State on Saturday in the regular season finale to avoid becoming the first Pac-10 team to go winless during the regular season.

Since the league was formed in 1978 when the Arizona schools joined, no school has ever gone 0-18 in Pac-10 play although there have been a handful of teams who were able to muster only one win, including Arizona who went 1-17 in league play in 1982-83.

Arizona had no such trouble with OSU on Thursday night. The Beavers started well and held early leads of 6-4 and 12-9 but then things began to break down on both ends of the court. 'Zona outscored Oregon State 31-6 over the final 11:35 of the first half to drain any thoughts of pulling off a shocker. UA led 40-18 at halftime.

Lathen Wallace came off the bench to lead OSU with 11 points. Josh Tarver and Rickey Claitt chipped in 10 each.

OSU interim coach Kevin Mouton tried to light a fire under his team headed into the final regular season tilt against ASU.

"I can't comment on what I said to them. You can't write what I said to them. ... but they'll be alright," Mouton told reporters after the loss.

Oregon State players were not made available for post-game interviews.

Mouton used the same lineup he used in Sunday's Oregon game, with Roeland Schaftenaar and Marcel Jones in the post and Claitt, Calvin Haynes, and walk-on Joey McConnell, who played a career-high 27 minutes.

"I'm going with the guys who want to play,'' explained Mouton.

The Beavers were outrebounded by a 40-29 margin, committed 20 turnovers and connected on just 32.1 percent from the floor in the blowout loss.

Arizona State won't be looking past the Beavers. After losing to Oregon, the Sun Devils need a win to reach 9-9 in conference play and solidify their chances for an invite to the NCAA Tourney.

Saturday's tip in Corvallis is at 2:30 and will be televised by FSN.

Oregon State has used 16 different starting lineups this season. The Wildcats used a 12-0 run to take a 23-12 advantage and then, after two Beaver baskets, went on a 13-0 run.

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