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Beavers Knock Cats Down to 5th

Beavers Slow Down Cats

By Lance Epstein

TUCSON, Ariz.—For the first time in 27 seasons, the Oregon State Beavers (11-13, 5-7) have won a game in the McKale Center beating the Wildcats, 63-55. This marks the first time since the Pre-Lute Olson era that the Wildcats were swept in a season by the Beavers.

Oregon State knocked Arizona out of a second place tie and the Cats now find themselves tied for 5th place tie in the Pac-10 at 7-6 and 13-12 overall. However more importantly, the fans and team’s hearts are all but broken for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

Entering the game, the Wildcats demolished the last place Oregon Ducks by 13 (the game was not even as close as the 70-57 final) and held 5 of their last 7 opponents to under 40 percent. While in the first half the Beavers shot a dreadful 37.5 percent, they heated up in the second half and finished the game 22-51 for 43.1 percent.

Despite the stifling defense by the Wildcats, the UA shot worse than the Beavers and did not take care of the ball. In the first half Arizona’s offense sputtered, turning the ball over nine times, while shooting 33 percent and only making six baskets.

At the first media timeout the Cats and Beaver were tied at eight, then Oregon State Head Coach Craig Robinson changed back and forth from a 1-3-1 to a 2-3 zone, which baffled the Wildcats. For the next 12 minutes of the first half, the teams exchanged baskets with Oregon State slowing the tempo on offense by running most, if not all, of the 35-second shot clock.

With 3:05 left in the half Arizona’s talented true freshman Derrick Williams made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 18-18. As the last three minutes unfolded, the Beavers consistently ran their Princeton offense to perfection.

Oregon State guard Lathen Wallace nailed a three pointer to instigate an 8-2 Beavers run and provided Oregon State a 26-20 lead at the half.

Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats were thankful to be down only six points at the half considering their leading scorer, senior point guard Nic Wise, had zero points, while being limited to only three shots.

The main and perhaps sole reason for the Wildcats hanging around was due to junior forward Jamelle Horne. At the half, he pulled down six rebounds and accounted for 10 of Arizona’s 20 first half points.

This was a sight for the sore eyes for the Arizona fans and coaching staff that have harped on his lack of effort on the boards. Entering the game, Horne had been criticized by the local media for his lack of rebounds; accounting for only six boards over the previous four games. Coincidentally, the Wildcats were just 2-2 in those games.

The second half commenced with the Beavers carrying the momentum they built heading into halftime. After Williams cut the lead to five by making the front end of two free throws, OSU responded with two quick layups off back screens by Jarred Cunningham and Calvin Haynes. Extending the OSU lead to 30-21.

Subsequently, UA’s reserve guard, Lamont Momo Jones slashed his way to the basket, making a difficult layup to score two of his seven points off the bench.

Still, the Wildcats let numerous opportunities to cut into the seven-point deficit slip away by poor offensive execution and ill-advised shots. Compounding the sloppy offense was OSU’s Wallace connecting on another huge three to give the Beavers’ their largest lead of the night at 33-23.

Former Wildcats Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill cheered on from the stands as former teammate Wise finally connected on a three pointer (would be his only basket, while finishing with five points), which energized the resilient Wildcats. Arizona stifled the Beavers forcing them into quick and contested shots. Along with the suffocating and intensified defense, the Cats Kevin Parrom and Kyle Fogg chipped in five of Arizona’s next 12 points in a 12-2 run to tie the game at 37-37 with 10:03.

Just as the fast as the Cats emerged with the momentum, the Beaver promptly responded with a surge of their own. With the score 39-38 and the shot clock running down, Oregon State’s versatile 6’11 senior forward Roeland Schaftenaar made a clutch three to extend the lead to four.

Schaftenaar, who torched Arizona for a game high 22 points in their earlier meeting in Corvallis, tallied seven of the next Beavers’ 15 points in a 15-5 run and a 52-42 lead. For the second consecutive game against UA, Schaftenaar had a team high 14 for Oregon State.

Ultimately, the Wildcats would never recover and the closest they come was five points with 32 seconds left. The Beavers hit 5-of-7 free throws down the stretch and Josh Tarver made a layup to propel the Beavers to a 63-55 victory.

A short time ago (two weeks ago to be exact) the Wildcats were tied for first place and looked to be coming of age. Now, Arizona finds itself searching for answers and in a slump; losing three of their last four games.

If Arizona expects to turn their current nose-dive in the standings around they must look to their starting backcourt to contribute. Over the past four games, Wise has averaged 8.8 points per game, while shooting a miserable 26.7 percent. That is seven points below his season average of 15.3 points and 13 percent lower than his 39.6 percent field goal average.

His backcourt mate has not fared much better. Fogg has shot a dismal 28.1 percent from the field and is averaging only 7.5 points per game.

Besides the scoring being down for both Wise and Fogg, both players have uncharacteristically turned the ball over. The two have combined for eight turnovers a game over the last four games. At this crucial juncture of the season, each possession becomes more valuable and each possession determines whether the Wildcats will be dancing in March.

Luckily for Miller and the Wildcats, they have a full week to prepare for archrival Arizona State and figure out the necessary adjustments to get back on the winning way.

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