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Bennedict Mathurin carries Arizona men’s basketball to win at Oregon State in Pac-12 opener

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 05 Arizona at Oregon State Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Once Bennedict Mathurin decides to enter the NBA Draft—it’s gonna happen real soon, probably this spring—it might be wise for the Portland Trail Blazers to trade up to get him considering how much he loves scoring just down the road in Corvallis.

Mathurin poured in 29 points on the same Gill Coliseum court where he scored a career-high 31 a year ago, leading No. 11 Arizona to a 90-65 win at Oregon State on Sunday afternoon in its Pac-12 opener.

The sophomore wing made 11 of 18 shots, including five dunks and 4 of 9 from 3-point shots, and added six rebounds. And Arizona (7-0, 1-0 Pac-12) needed a lot of that production, because for most of the game the rest of the team was collectively bad on offense.

The UA shot 47.1 percent from the field—42.3 percent from non-Mathurin players—and 5 of 23 from 3 on triples not taken by him. Three of those makes were by Kerr Kriisa, who was 4 of 12 from the field in scoring 11 to go with five assists.

Christian Koloko added 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks, with Dalen Terry also chipping in five assists.

Arizona played maybe its worst half of the season—other than the second half against Wichita State—yet still led 44-36 by forcing 13 OSU turnovers. The Beavers (1-8, 0-2) turned it over 22 times, which the UA converted into 27 points.

A steal at midcourt by Azuolas Tubelis, who only took one shot in the first half and finished with 10 points, led to a break where he dunked it off a dish from Dalen Terry to make it 54-41 with 16:39 left. The Wildcats recorded 13 steals, most since November 2019.

A dunk by Mathurin started a 6-0 run to put the Wildcats up 18 with 10:06 to go, and his fifth slam—in transition after going behind his back in the lane—made it 84-58 with 4:22 remaining.

Mathurin has scored 60 points on 21-of-30 shooting in 60 minutes of play at OSU, with Arizona winning those games by a combined score of 188-129.

The Wildcats turned it over four times in its first nine possessions of the game, then went into its longest scoring drought of the season, going 4:12 without points as OSU jumped ahead 13-7. But Arizona responded with a 16-0 run, holding the Beavers scoreless for 6:01, to lead 23-13 on a dunk-and-one by Mathurin with 8:54 left in the first half.

The UA led by as many as 13 in the first half but only made 3 of its last 10 shots while OSU made 9 of 12 at one point.

Arizona returns home to take on unbeaten Wyoming on Wednesday at McKale Center.