Rushed Reactions: Oregon State 79, Portland State 74

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 13th, 2012

Connor Pelton is an RTC correspondent and Pac-12 microsite writer. He filed this report from tonight’s Oregon State-Portland State game in Portland.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. 100 Wins. Tonight’s win was Craig Robinson’s 100th victory in his career, just seven seasons in. While there have certainly been some struggles along the way (an 11-18 year at Brown and a 10-19 campaign with the Beavers in 2010-11), it is becoming more and more evident from the finish to last season and the start of this year that Robinson will be in Corvallis for a long time. And that’s a good thing for Beaver fans. What plagued him and Oregon State early on in his career were three things; halftime adjustments, correctly picking a defense to match up with the opponent’s strengths, and getting the team up for games against lesser opponents. It was fitting Robinson did all three of these things correctly in his milestone win. The Vikings quickly built up a 16-7 lead against the Beavers, and recognizing a need for energy and disruption, OSU went to its signature 1-3-1 trap. That forced three consecutive PSU turnovers, and in a matter of minutes the Beavers went on a 18-8 run to gain the lead for the first time.
  2. The Emergence of Joe Burton. As Joe Burton goes, so do the Beavers? That would have been a crazy statement to make at the beginning of the season, but ever since the season-ending injury to fellow center Angus Brandt, we’ve seen a new and more confident Burton. That was especially true tonight, as the big man led all starters with 20 points. Big Joe is now looking to shoot more instead of instantly going into pass-first mode, and tonight he rolled off four straight buckets after missing the first three he took. If Burton can continue this type of production, the sting of losing Brandt will be lessened significantly.
  3. Stopping Starks. Oregon State’s leading scorer only put up four shots from the field on Wednesday night, and missed every single one of them. Normally the junior point guard gets his pull-up threes off of screens on the perimeter, but instead of switching on those screens, the Vikings did a terrific job of fighting through them and doubling Starks before the screen even came. This worked for the first ten minutes, while the Beaver bigs couldn’t put anything away inside the paint, but eventually the shots would fall and Portland State was killed in the paint. Regardless, the strategy more or less worked. Anytime a team that hasn’t beaten a Division I opponent all season can hold one of the Pac-12’s top scorer to only four points, you’re doing something right.
Despite A Terrific Defensive Effort Against Ahmad Starks, The Beavers Pulled Out A 79-74 Road Victory. (Photo by Connor Pelton)

Despite A Terrific Defensive Effort Against Ahmad Starks, The Beavers Pulled Out A 79-74 Road Victory. (This photo, apparently found in the LOST hatch, is from  Connor Pelton)

Star of the Game. Devon Collier. We’ve already discussed Burton’s exploits, and he’d make a great pick as well, but Collier’s buckets came at the biggest times. The junior would go on mini-runs all by himself, salvaging the Beavers from offensive droughts and igniting not only the team, but large contingent of Beaver fans in attendance. His post moves were spectacular, consistently putting down shots and drawing contact in the process. The big man finished with a team-leading 23 points, and came up huge on the offensive glass as well.

Sights & Sounds. Watching Robinson up close and personal is something every hoops junkie should experience. The guy is fiery and intense, and in a good way. With the Beavers trailing 22-21 15 minutes into the first half, a Portland State guard appeared to push-off with his arm to gain separation on a drive to the hoop. Robinson yelled exactly that, loud enough so each of the 1,500 fans in attendance could hear, and the official replied with the equivalent of a “sit down and let us make the calls” comment. Not appreciating being ordered around, the head coach replied “you can’t scream at me” and promptly received a technical. Michael Harthun would miss both free throws, however, and fired up by their coach, the Beavers closed the half on a 11-4 run.

Quotable: Craig Robinson, on the energy gained from the technical and 1-3-1 trap: “I think we just needed an infusion of energy. I thought we were pretty lethargic. This is about the time. Our record now is 6-2 and we’ve been playing pretty well, but we were due to have a bad game. It was exasperated that we were on the road, in a small gym. I’m not saying that I expected this, but it was bound to happen. So we have to learn how to win these games anyway and that was a good sign.”

Wildcard. The Free Throw Line. Oregon State made 18 free throws on Wednesday, three times the amount that Portland State put down. The Beavers actually shot 29 times from the charity stripe, so while the percentage sure could improve, the fact that they’re getting there in the first place is big.

What’s Next? The Vikings are still in search of that elusive first Division I win, and they will be one of the few teams in the nation that has to wait until Big Sky play to get it. They’ve got George Fox on Saturday before closing December against Idaho State and Weber State, all three of which will be played at the Stott Center. For Oregon State, they should cruise through the rest of their non-conference slate before welcoming in Oregon on January 6.

Connor Pelton (300 Posts)

I'm from Portland. College basketball and football is life.

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