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December 29, 2011The Beavers open PAC 12 play tonight in Seattle against the Washington Huskies. The Beavers have struggled in Seattle, but hope to keep their winning ways alive. Against a fairly weak out of conference set of opponents the Beavers have built confidence and look for that to carry over as conference play begins.
NOTES & QUOTES
• Oregon State's win at Illinois-Chicago improved the team's record to 10-2, the school's best start since 1989-90, when the Beavers last advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
"I know people are going to talk about the last time we went 10-2 was the last time we went to the NCAA Tournament, but we can't get ahead of ourselves," coach Craig Robinson said. "We have been a one-day-at-a-time team all season long, and we are going to continue that."
• The Beavers enter conference play having scored 92 points or more in four straight games and six times in their first 12 outings.
• Oregon State was leading the Pac-12 in steals at 10.4 per game entering conference play. Jared Cunningham had 36 of the Beavers' 125 thefts, an average of 3.0 per game.
• The Huskies were the Pac-12's most prolific offensive rebounding team through Christmas. They were averaging 14.36 through the close of their non-conference schedule.
• The Huskies saw their 32-game non-conference home win streak snapped in the 92-73 stunner at the hands of South Dakota State.
• Ten players scored for the Huskies in their 74-51 win over Cal State Northridge, led by redshirt freshman F Desmond Simmons, who had 13 points and eight rebounds in his most productive effort.
By The Numbers Oregon State: 27-Oregon State's season-high assist total, set in a win over Portland State.
By The Numbers Washington: 22-Biggest trailing margin in the first half of a 92-73 loss to South Dakota State, the Huskies' first home defeat of the season.
Quote of Note: "Jared's done a really good job of sort of making himself pertinent in games where he's not the leading scorer. He's upped his assist output and even his steals. He's a marked man now. Everybody knows who he is, so he attracts a lot of attention. I think he's adjusting just fine."-Oregon State coach Craig Robinson, on star junior G Jared Cunningham.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Key Matchups: The Beavers beat the Huskies at home last season, but they haven't had much success in Seattle. Overall, they have dropped eight of the past nine matchups in the series. But this Oregon State team believes it has the depth and quickness to play with Washington. Junior G Jared Cunningham will need a strong game, and the Beavers cannot let Washington's pressure defense dictate the outcome.
Player to Watch: No one outside the Oregon State program had much clue what redshirt freshman F Eric Moreland might be able to achieve this season. He missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, but he is making up for lost time. The 6-foot-10 forward had a 10-point, 13-rebound game vs. Portland State and an eight-point, 14-rebound performance vs. Illinois-Chicago.
"You guys are more surprised by Eric than we are," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. "Before he got hurt, he was potentially a contributor then. He's playing more and more minutes. We knew he could rebound. I'm much more pleased with his maturity level, the way he comports himself on the court, the way he goes about getting better."
• How critical is F Devon Collier to what the Beavers do? "He's the linchpin," coach Craig Robinson said. "He's a tall three-man at 6-7, 6-8. And as long as he can guard that third guard or that small forward, this lineup is fine." Collier was averaging 14.1 points and 4.8 rebounds through 12 games.
• Redshirt sophomore reserve G Roberto Nelson finally is hitting his stride. After averaging 4.8 points through the Beavers' first five games, he scored at a 17.4 clip the final five non-conference games. Nelson made 15 of 26 3-point attempts during that span.
• Sophomore PG Ahmad Starks also has warmed up, averaging 16.0 points and shooting 15 for 24 from beyond the 3-point arc in the Beavers' final five non-conference games.
• Sophomore G Terrence Ross was averaging 15.1 points and 6.5 rebounds entering Pac-12 play, but he had just six points before fouling out of the loss to South Dakota State.
• Freshman G Tony Wroten, averaging 21.3 points over the final four non-conference games, isn't a finished product yet. He was shooting just 52.7 percent from the free-throw line and 27.8 percent from the 3-point arc in non-conference play.
• Junior C Aziz N'Diaye returned to action against Cal State Northridge after missing two games with a right knee sprain. N'Diaye had 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in 16 minutes against the Matadors.