After losing to the Oregon Ducks on Thursday, the Arizona Wildcats look to get back on track against the Oregon State Beavers. Below, we look at what Oregon State players to look out for, what to expect from Oregon State, and why you should watch this game.
Who to watch
The obvious answer is Gary Payton II. Payton is one of the best players in the conference, averaging 16.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. Those are insane numbers, and they get even more insane when you consider that Payton does all of this while shooting 50%+ from the floor and being one of the best defensive players in the league. He's the best point guard in the conference right now and it's not close. Kadeem Allen is going to have to guard him - Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Gabe York just aren't capable of doing it - and he'll have his work cut out for him.
A less obvious answer is Tres Tinkle, coach Wayne Tinkle's son. Tinkle is a freshman, but has still managed to average a little over 12 points per game to go along with 5.3 rebounds per game. He's one of the few guys on Oregon State who can and will shoot three pointers, averaging 38.5% from deep this season on over four attempts per game. Arizona fans might as well get familiar with Tinkle now because he'll be a very solid contributor for Oregon State for the next four years.
What to watch
Oregon State is not a very good team. They're 11th in the conference in offensive efficiency, 7th in the conference defensive efficiency, and one of the Pac-12's worst three-point shooting teams.
That said, there are at least a few things Oregon State does well that should worry Arizona fans. First, they're good at protecting the ball, turning the ball over on only 14.7% of possessions. Second, they're good at forcing turnovers, forcing conference opponents to turn the ball over 21.2% of the time.
Does this sound familiar? It should. Oregon beat Arizona on Thursday not because they shot the ball better, but because they forced turnovers and didn't turn the ball over themselves. Those two things are literally the two things that the Beavers are best at. That should worry Arizona fans, at least a little.
Oregon State also isn't afraid to run a zone defense, as the Wildcats should remember from their loss in Corvallis last year. Arizona hasn't been able to reliably break a zone this season, so expect Oregon State to throw it at the Wildcats and see if it works.
All of this isn't to say that Oregon State will win - again, they're not very good and they're playing on the road. But there is a path for the Beavers to find a win.
Why you should watch
To see if the Cats can bounce back. Thursday went badly in a lot of different ways, with a ton of turnovers, yelling on the sideline between Sean Miller and Kaleb Tarczewski, and a lack of defensive effort. But tomorrow, we'll learn whether the Oregon game was just a hiccup against one of the best teams in the conference or if something is more seriously wrong with Arizona. I hope it's the former. I really, really hope it's the former.
Arizona and Oregon State are scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Network.