Hoops Preview - Oregon State

The co-Pac-12-leading Washington Huskies (16-8, 9-3) only have a couple of days to tangle with Oregon State (15-9, 5-7 Pac-12) Sunday as the back end of UW Oregon road swing. The game is set for a 2:30 p.m. start at Gill Coliseum and will be televised by ROOT Sports/FSN.

Oregon State currently leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 80.8 points per game. That means they not only lead the conference in possessions (73.5 per game), but also in points per possession (1.1). That means, at least on paper, the game with the Huskies should be a shootout, as UW is ranked No. 2 in the league in scoring, averaging 75.3 ppg.

Leading the way for the Beavers is junior guard Jared Cunningham, from Oakland, Calif. Cunningham is averaging 18.6 points per game, good enough for the Pac-12 lead. He also leads the league in steals, averaging 2.83 thefts per contest.

The prodigious Beavers have two other players currently scoring in double-figures - sophomore forward Devon Collier (13 ppg) and sophomore guard Ahmad Starks (12.6 ppg). Collier also leads the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (.618) by

But those aren't the only players to focus on. It's a team effort in Corvallis, and when you need a rebound, you look to freshman Eric Moreland, who is averaging nearly six-and-a-half boards a game. And junior forward Joe Burton is putting in work on both ends of the ball, getting over six rebounds a game and also dishing out over three assists every time he enters the fray.

OSU lost their last game - at home to Washington State by 10 points, so expect the pressure to be ratcheted up even more. But like the Huskies, Oregon State can get to the line quite a bit - they already have a league-leading 649 times - but they don't fare as well in putting those freebies down. They are sixth in the Pac-12 when it comes to free throw percentage.

They are also a middle-of-the-road rebounding team, but do a nice job on the offensive boards. The same could have been said for Oregon, but they actually out-rebounded the league-leading Huskies in the Ducks' 82-57 rout of UW Thursday.

Washington has to get off to a good start against OSU; at the very least they have to play aggressive defense and limit the Beavers to only one shot per possession. And offensively, they have to go back to the same patience that kept them in good stead during their last road trip to Arizona, especially when the shots aren't falling.

Ultimately, this game is going to come down to who steps up. Oregon State, like Washington, seems to be having difficulty finding a consistent vocal leader on the court, and even though Cunningham is a stat-sheet stuffer, he's much like UW's Terrence Ross in that he's not a dominant personality. For the Huskies to persevere on the road, they have to find a way to break through with players like Ross, C.J. Wilcox, and Tony Wroten leading the way.


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