04 February 2011
The Beavers have been up and down all season. Way down, at times, and way up at other times. OSU earned its biggest win of the season Thursday night, knocking off No. 20 Washington at Gill Coliseum, 68-56. It was the first time OSU has defeated a top 20 team since Feb. 13, 2005, when the Beavers downed the Huskies at Gill and Washington held the No. 11 ranking.
Huskies fans might suggest that their team was just cold on this night, that shooting 32% wouldn't possibly happen again this season. Maybe it won't, but it was more than just poor shooting by Washington that led to the Beavers' win: it was a combination of OSU playing solid defense, rebounding, and having patience on offense.
Defense Strong Inside: Matt Bryan-Amaning shot just 5-12 from the floor for 12 points on Thursday night, facing a much better defense than he did when he lit up the OSU bigs for 24 points and 15 rebounds Jan. 8 in Seattle. Forward Justin Holiday went 2-8 for 4 points, and center Aziz N'Diaye was held scoreless. Beavers' center Angus Brandt and forwards Joe Burton, Devon Collier, and Omari Johnson deserve the credit for the Huskies' inability to score in the paint, and when a team can't score in the paint, it's tough to win a low-scoring game. OSU's 2-3 zone sandwiched Bryan-Amaning and the Huskies' perimeter players were unable to make the Beavers pay, missing both challenged and open threes to go 7-29 from downtown on the night. The Beavers' high-risk, high-reward 1-3-1 was deployed only once against Washington. Good defense isn't measured by the number of steals a team tallies in a game.
Season High on the Boards: Sure, when the opponent misses 42 shots, the Beavers should expect to grab a season-high in rebounds. But 47 total rebounds? Even more impressive, the Huskies only totaled 8 offensive rebounds in those 42 missed shots. Part of this was due to the fact that OSU kept big bodies on Bryan-Amaning all night, but part of it was simply hustle. The Beavers hit the floor and hit Huskies before they got into the paint. Johnson grabbed 11 rebounds, Collier 9, and Burton had 8 boards. Senior guard Calvin Haynes was aggressive from several positions in the 2-3 zone, finishing with a career high 7 rebounds to go with his 11 points. Haynes also frustrated Isaiah Thomas with physical play throughout the game.
Offense Shows Discipline: No more long threes from freshman guard Roberto Nelson. No more hook shots early in the clock from Brandt. The Beavers moved the ball methodically -- especially in the second half -- picking apart the Huskies by drawing fouls and staying poised with the shot clock running down. Nelson, who appeared to have a long leash from coach Craig Robinson last week, wasn't given the opportunity to make two mistakes against the Huskies. Following a poor, contested shot attempt early in the clock, Robinson immediately turned to Starks on the bench to replace Nelson in the second half, and Nelson didn't see the floor again in the game. He finished with 4 points in 9 minutes; to the young guard's credit, though, there was no pouting. Nelson was one of the most active, vocal members of the OSU bench after Robinson pulled him. Following the loss to UW in Seattle last month, sophomore guard Jared Cunningham told Beyond the Beat that the Huskies are "a momentum team." On Thursday, it was the Beavers who controlled the pace of the game.
Cunningham Gets Physical: Jared Cunningham led the way with 19 points for the Beavers, shooting 13-17 from the free throw line -- a career high in attempts at the line. He was physical all game, getting into a brief scrum with UW guard Venoy Overton in the second half as the two positioned for an OSU inbound play. After the referees separated the two, Cunningham immediately waived off his teammates and beat Overton off the drive to draw a foul on Bryan-Amaning. Two possessions later, he beat Overton again and drew another foul. This was leadership enacted, a statement moment wherein the young guard refused to be bullied or intimidated on his own court. OSU's program is seeing a star mature this year in Cunningham.
Rotations Stay Fluid: Robinson started his eighth different lineup against the Huskies, opting to go with Cunningham, Starks, Burton, Collier, and Brandt at tipoff. Senior Lathen Wallace, who had been playing well and seeing heavy minutes, played only 4 minutes and went scoreless on Thursday.
Winning The Paint: Not only did OSU play well inside defensively, the Beavers outscored the Huskies 34-22 in the paint. Brandt and Burton combined for 11 points, while most of Collier's 9 came near the hoop, too. In order for the Beavers to continue winning in the Pac-10, they must find success in the lane game-to-game.
More Redemption vs. WSU?: The Beavers now face the Washington State Cougars on Saturday in Corvallis, and WSU is coming off a surprising 69-43 loss to the Ducks in Eugene on Thursday night. The Beavers lost to WSU in Pullman on Jan. 6, 84-70. What do the Beavers need to do to redeem themselves in a second straight game? More of what they did against the Huskies.
photo: associated press