The ‘Cats will have a bitter taste in their mouth after a disappointing loss to Colorado last weekend that prompted Sean Miller to rant about the team’s lack of effort.
Arizona enters 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12, while Oregon State is 10-5 and 2-1, respectively. The game is set for 7 p.m MST and it will air on Pac-12 Network.
Oregon State is an interesting team that may pose some problems for UA. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer:
82-77 loss to the St. John’s Red Storm (in Orlando)
76-57 home win over the Colorado Buffaloes
66-64 home loss to the Utah Utes
76-64 home win over the Oregon Ducks
Thursday’s game will be OSU’s first conference road game, but they handily beat the Colorado team that just swept the Arizona schools.
Oregon State’s offense
Oregon State has a few key strengths and key weaknesses when they have control of the basketball.
Perhaps the Beavers’ biggest strength is their ability to get to the free throw line. OSU has the sixth-best free throw rate — free throw attempt per field goal attempt — in college basketball. While they aren’t superb at shooting from the stripe (a measly 70.5 percent), their sheer number of attempts helps make up for that.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a team built on drawing fouls works inside, and that’s just what Oregon State does. OSU gets nearly 55 percent of their points from inside the arc, the 55th-highest number in the nation.
Oregon State also has some glaring weaknesses, though. Perhaps their most pronounced is their turnover rate, 19.9 percent which ranks 236th (of 351) in college basketball. While Oregon State often gets a healthy amount of points per possession due to their free throw attempts, one out of every five possessions ends with a turnover, which is crippling.
OSU is also an awful 3-point shooting team, making just 31.5 percent of its attempts. But they don’t force the issue, ranking dead-last in the conference in 3-point attempts (46).
In all, Oregon State has the No. 112 offense in the country which ranks seventh in the Pac-12.
Oregon State’s defense
The Beavers’ defense, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything particularly great or but isn’t awful, either. It ranks 138th in college basketball and 10th in the Pac-12.
The closest thing to a strength OSU’s defense has is their steal and block numbers. Oregon State forces a steal on 10.6 percent of possessions and a block 11.8 percent of the time, good for 50th and 68th in the nation, respectively.
Oregon State’s biggest defensive weakness would be allowing too many offensive rebounds. OSU ranks 212th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage.
It certainly doesn’t help that Deandre Ayton will be down low fighting for rebounds against this team Thursday.
Players to watch
Tres Tinkle, Forward, Sophomore
Tinkle may be the son of coach Wayne Tinkle, but make no mistake, he is the star for the Beavers.
The 6-foot- 8 sophomore averages 36 minutes per game this season, chipping in 18.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while on the court. He even averages 3.6 assists, too.
He’s also an 86 percent foul shooter, and takes over five per game — one reason why Oregon State gets to the line as often as it does.
Tinkle missed nearly the entire 2016-17 season with a wrist injury, and his absence was a huge reason OSU struggled mightily last season, going 5-27. However, he was awarded a medical redshirt, meaning he’s still only a sophomore.
Tinkle will likely be matched up against Rawle Alkins, which should make for a fantastic duel.
Stephen Thompson Jr., Guard, Junior
Thompson is the eldest of the two Thompson kids playing for Oregon State, and while he’s another coach’s son, he’s quite a player as well.
Former Syracuse star Stephen Thompson Sr. currently works as assistant coach for the Beavers, and he’s getting a first row seat to his son becoming a key piece on this team, as Thompson Jr. is averaging 36 minutes per game as well.
Thompson averages 16.5 points per game, and he is also OSU’s only real threat from 3, shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc.
The 6-foot-4 swingman stars in the OSU backcourt with younger brother Ethan, who’s a freshman. Both have been key pieces this season for a vastly improved Beavers squad, but the older Thompson is one of the leaders of the team, along with Tinkle.
Thompson will face off against Allonzo Trier, which should be another very interesting matchup.
Another guy to watch is Drew Eubanks, a 6-foot-10 junior who averages 13.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. The big man is athletic and could be a nuisance for someone like Dusan Ristic to guard.