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Preview: Q&A with Building the Dam

So tomorrow, Arizona will play an 11-5 Oregon State Beavers team in McKale Center, and judging off of Arizona's most recent games, it could get chippy. The Beavs have played UA tough the past few games (remember Joe Burton's ejection?) and with Jared Cunningham's rise, Arizona will have its hands full. Andy Wooldridge at Building The Dam caught up with us and we traded a Q&A over on his site.

1. Both Arizona and Oregon State come in at 11-5, but statistically, the Beavers have the more impressive national rankings. They're in the top 10 of points per game with 84.4 and also the top 10 in assists per game with 18.1. Meanwhile, Arizona has had trouble with offensive flow and turnovers. How efficient is the Oregon State offense and how much does it have to do with their success this season as opposed to last season?

The offensive improvement has everything to so with their improvement; you may recall multiple games last year where Oregon St.'s defense held teams down, but couldn't score with any consistency.

You noted the assist number, and that's been a big key. Everyone is willing to give up the ball if someone else has a better look, and they have the passing ability to do it.

2. On the other side of the ball, what's been the key for Craig Robinson's crew on defense? I imagine it's helping the Beavers get out in transition for easy buckets.

There's really been 2 keys. First, playing more man has made it more fun for the players, which means mentally they don't mind when the situation calls for some zone.

Secondly, Eric Moreland has a 7'4" wing span, and Devon Collier isn't that far behind him. That length creates real problems for opposing offenses.

And you are correct, the more aggressive defense is creating far more transition basket opportunities.

3. Last year I knew Cunningham as an athletic freak, but now he's looking like the leader for Pac-12 Player of the Year. What has he done to advance his game?

He grew into a junior. It's really just more of how he progressed from a promising freshman to what you saw last year. He just keeps honing his game, and getting more game smart with each contest as well, learning how and when to best use his tremendous talents.

4. Another player I liked a lot last year was Joe Burton, who at a beefy 6-foot-7, 280 pounds is leading the Beavs with 3.6 assists per game to go with 10 points and seven boards per outing. With Arizona lacking any significant player with substantial size, do you see him posing a number of problems for the Wildcats?

If the Beavers are going to beat the 'Cats, they are going to need a good game from Burton. And it's likely; he's playing much more consistently this year.

He's improved his mobility and his ball handling significantly, and that makes it difficult for opponents. He moves around the key, forcing defenses to move with him. And if you collapse on him, he will make the pass. He's third on the team in assists, and you don't see that very often from a post player.

5. Overall, Oregon State handled the non-conference schedule well it appears. However, they've been erratic in the Pac-12, starting with a 1-3 record. Are the Beavs just struggling with consistency coming into this game, or are there any specific problems that keep popping up in conference play?

This is still a pretty young team, and so they are still learning how to deal with some things.

Washington presents a completely different look this year than they have since long before any of these guys arrived, so it took them some time, too much as it turned out, to figure out what they needed to do.

Washington St. surprised everyone, even Cougar fans, with a zone defense they weren't expecting, and again, it took too long to adjust.

Against Stanford, they did give up too many uncontested outside shots, usually off a second pass, and that's a problem that has cropped up at times all year.