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Sometimes things don't add up. On Wednesday, it's hard to see a No. 3 Arizona Wildcats team having an easy go against the Oregon State Beavers. At least, it's not as easy to see Sean Miller's crew winning by 22 like they did in McKale Center earlier this year, or drubbing the Beavs like they did Cal and Stanford this past week.
It's on the road. The Wildcats are coming off the high of a Senior Day and Pac-12 title-clinching win. The Beavs have a frontcourt with size, versatile scoring ability and the athleticism to keep pace with Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon. OSU has a point guard in Roberto Nelson that could go off at any moment.
Most importantly, Oregon State has a lot more to play for at 7-9 in Pac-12 play and a 5-2 conference home record. It's not completely out of line to say human nature is on the Beavers' side.
"We've been fighting so much just to improve on a daily basis, I'm not versed enough on RPI and selection to have any idea (about the NCAA tournament)," coach Craig Robinson said in his teleconference call. "If you beat the No. 3 team in the nation, then you get the attention ... We view this as an opportunity, I won't say to get an at-large bid, but to get a look."
Robinson has said throughout this season he sees something new in his team. The Beavers have shown signs of knowing they can play with most teams. It showed in a big win against UCLA earlier this year.
Then again, Arizona smoked OSU 76-54 in McKale Center several weeks back.
How'd Arizona win the last time out? The defense had a great deal of success against the Beavs' most dangerous weapon. Nelson, who is averaging 20.6 points on 44.9 percent shooting and 40.2 percent accuracy from three-point range, was held to 3-for-12 shooting and 10 points.
Eric Moreland, though not considered a big-time offensive threat, wasn't much good in stopping Gordon, who scored 17 to lead UA.
About the biggest issue for the Wildcats was center Angus Brandt, who took Tarczewski out of his comfort zone in the paint to score 14 points. Expect Zeus to have a shot at getting back into his own comfort zone after producing a lot but also fouling out in 16 minutes against Stanford this past weekend.
What I'd like to see
Gabe York sure has spurt-ability. His double-digit scoring games have often come thanks to a few minutes of bombing away, but it will be interesting to see if he and fellow guard Elliott Pitts can develop their roles further in the next few games and the Pac-12 Tournament.
Defenses usually adjust, of course, but I wouldn't mind if the two best shooters on the team would continue searching for decent looks. Misses are even important for this Arizona team. If defenses are thinking twice about doubling down on Tarczewski rather than staying home on shooters, it'll help out tremendously.
Craig Robinson on the biggest issues for OSU heading into this week's final batch of Pac-12 games: "Our turnovers. The games we've lost, if we could cut back on some of our turnovers. Recently in mind, the UCLA game, we've been doing a great job this season shooting foul shots. I think we've been a bit off of our normal pace there. Those are two things."