The Arizona Wildcats (18-7, 8-4 Pac-12) take on the Oregon State Beavers (15-10, 5-8) on Thursday night at McKale Center, hoping to avenge an earlier loss to OSU and stay on pace with the other teams tied atop the conference standings.
Tip off is set for 6 p.m. MT with the game being shown on the Pac-12 Network.
Below are our staff predictions:
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 71-60
While Sean Miller said he doesn’t want to use the ‘R’ word when preparing for Oregon State, it’s hard to imagine he won’t at least harp on how disinterested Arizona looked during the last 15 minutes of its worst loss of the season. The effort wasn’t there, something that has not been the case in any of the nine games since, so look for a little extra fire early on. That won’t be enough to get the job done, though, against a team with some impressive wins in the league and a few really talented players that has otherwise massively underachieved. Having a complete performance, from opening tip to final whistle, will go a long way for the Wildcats in their quest to win the conference.
Christian Mortensen — Arizona wins 68-54
When it beat Arizona 82-65 on January 12, Oregon State shot a crazy 54% from the field (27-50) and knocked down 8-18 threes in the process — good for 44%. Five guys (Tres Tinkle, Ethan Thompson, Kylor Kelley, Alfred Hollins and Zach Reichle) all scored in double figures and the Beavers dominated the Wildcats in the second half — outscoring them 51-34 and outshooting them 65% to 34% in that final period.
It was one the UA’s worst performances of the season, but I simply don’t see the same thing happening Thursday night at McKale.
Yes, the Wildcats will once again have to perform offensively in the half court against a slow tempo team — one that plays a zone no less — but I think that being back back at home after the sweep in the Bay Area, they will have no problem claiming a huge win to keep pace at the top of the Pac-12 Standings.
Oh yeah. Here’s a stat for you: Oregon State has only won one game in Tucson since 1984. The Beavers are 1-34 at McKale in that time.
Ronnie Stoffle — Arizona wins 73-69
This is a rematch I hope Arizona has been waiting for. Last time these two played, the Beavers absolutely embarrassed the Wildcats albeit in Corvallis.
Now the rematch takes place in Tucson where Arizona has overall played well throughout the season. I still very much worry about OSU’s zone defense and their length as it applies to a potential rebounding advantage.
I don’t feel great about this prediction but it’s just hard for me to imagine the Beavers will sweep the season series. Also, playing at home should favor role players like Max Hazzard (3-point shooting) and Ira Lee (rebounding).
Matthew Rein — Arizona wins 75-67
Arizona lost by 17 to the Beavers in Corvallis, and simply lost control of the game during the last ten minutes. I think the Wildcats find a way to get it done this time around.
It’s so hard to predict how this Arizona team will play on a week-to-week basis. The season has been marred by inconsistency, but the one area which has shown great improvement is on the defensive side of the floor. Sean Miller praised his team’s defensive effort in the weekend Bay Area sweep, and we’ll see whether this carries over to the home-stand. I’m betting it will.
Oregon State is a talented team, with some equally puzzling performances, but it won’t be enough this time against the Cats. Arizona wins by 8 due to the McKale advantage, solid defense, and a better shooting performance.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 74-63
Oh, this team. Just when you think the Wildcats are going the wrong direction they go ahead and earn a sweep of the Bay Area schools. With a couple of home games next that should be exciting, but the team has struggled to handle its own success this season so nothing is guaranteed.
While the Saturday matchup with Oregon may seem like the headliner, it won’t matter all that much if Arizona loses to Oregon State on Thursday. Given how badly the Beavers beat the Cats not long ago, that’s certainly a possibility.
Will Arizona come out focused? You’d think so, which should help keep their defense at a high level.
Will Arizona be able to make shots? That’s the real question, and if the answer is “Yes” then the Wildcats should leave McKale with a win Thursday night. I think they will, and the defense will limit the law firm of Tinkle, Thompson and Kelly enough to pull away at the end.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 78-71
Oregon State is quite similar to Arizona in that it has a lot of talent but is maddeningly inconsistent. The Beavers have beaten Oregon, Colorado (on the road!) and Arizona, but have also lost to Cal, Washington and Washington State.
For that reason, I’m not sure any outcome Thursday would be surprising. Still, Arizona being at home with a chance to move a step closer to capturing a conference championship makes me believe it will come out focused from the get-go, unlike the first matchup in Corvallis.
My keys to the game and other things to watch for can be found here.