After a disheartening and streak-ending defeat at the hands of Oregon Thursday night, the Wildcats will next face Oregon State Saturday evening (730 pm/Pac 12 Network). The loss Thursday ended their 49 game win streak at McKale Center. The Wildcats will look to begin a new one Saturday night against a team that just lost at ASU by 18.
Even though Arizona shot 61% from the field Thursday night, their 19 turnovers were their downfall. Arizona will be motivated in front of yet another sellout crowd Saturday night, looking to get back over .500 in conference play.
The Beavers follow Gary Payton II’s lead. GP2, as they refer to him, is a conference player of the year candidate with averages of about 18 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists per game. Payton will likely provide a good matchup for Kadeem Allen.
Behind Payton, Oregon State depends on three freshmen, two of which are coaches’ sons. Tres Tinkle, an undersized power forward and son of head coach Wayne Tinkle (even if he is “listed” at 6’8), is a capable shooter, shooting 41% overall and 38% from three point range. He looks to get to the free throw line often, averaging over five free throw attempts per game, leading the team. Stephen Thompson Jr, the other son of a Beaver coach on the team, averages nearly 10 points per game and leads the team in three pointers made and attempted. Guarding him beyond the arc will be a focus point for the Wildcats. Finally, Drew Eubanks anchors Oregon State inside. Even though he is only averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds per outing, he has been a bigger focus of the Beaver offense in recent weeks.
Arizona will have a vast size advantage down low in this game. Ristic, Anderson, and Zeus should be able to do damage inside and get the Oregon State big men in foul trouble. With Oregon State’s dearth of frontcourt depth, this will be Arizona’s simplest path towards lowering the Beavers shot at an upset.
After the aforementioned turnover issue became so apparent Thursday night, taking care of the ball could well be a major emphasis for the Cats in this game. As Arizona continues to weather the storm while awaiting the return of Allonzo Trier, other players will need to pick up the slack with scoring. Whether it is inspired performances out of players like Ristic, Tolly, or PJC (outside the usual from Zeus, Anderson, and Ristic), someone will need to take the onus upon themself.
Kadeem Allen produced a career high 10 assists Thursday night. What he will surely focus on Saturday is trimming his turnover number (5 against Oregon). If Arizona can take care of the ball and control the paint, starting a new home winning steak should be in the cards.