Real Test Begins Tonight

At a Glance
Who: Oregon State (14-5, 5-2 Pac-12) at Arizona State (10-10, 2-5)
When: 5 p.m., Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.
T.V./Radio: Pac-12 Networks/Beaver Sports Radio Network
Last meeting: 55-47, OSU on Jan. 8 at Gill Coliseum. Malcolm Duvivier led the Beavers with 15 points and Gary Payton II had 12, while holding ASU to 20 first-half points.
Notes: OSU is off to its best start since the 1989-90 season, the last time it made the NCAA tournament. The Beavers are ranked sixth nationally in FG percentage defense (.360) and ninth in scoring defense (56.1). Payton II was named Pac-12 player of the week after leading OSU to two wins last week, during which he averaged 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.5 steals.

They’ve already won more games than they were expected to, transformed 180 degrees defensively, and perhaps most impressively, overcome a serious lack of depth. But now the real test begins for the Beavers.  Getting win No. 15 won’t be easy.

Not only will the Beavers being playing on short rest (one day might not seem like much, but for OSU, every day of rest matters), thanks to some silly football game, but they will be facing two teams that have already played them. That means the element of surprise is out the window.

Oh, and they are on the road.

So it will be interesting to see what kind of wrinkles Tinkle and Co. throw at the Sun Devils tonight and Arizona on Friday. Of course, the Beavers will rely on the stingy defense that’s carried them so far, and they might have to step up a notch from the last time they played ASU — because the Sun Devils probably will shoot a lot better this time around, especially being on their home court.

I think the big men will have to step up offensively for the Beavers. Expect both the Sun Devils tonight and Arizona on Saturday to press often, so if the Beavers’ backcourt players make good passes, there should be opportunities for players such as Daniel Gomis and Jarmal Reid to get some easy baskets. Also, the Beavers need to be aggressive and get to free-throw line, because nothing beats free points, right? And they need to continue to hit timely shots.

ASU will probably be the Beavers’ best chance for a win this week — and a split would be just fine. But who knows? They’ve been in the business of surprising all season, and I don’t think they are done just yet. Go Beavs! (RW)

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