Beavers seek another upset of No. 3 Arizona
The No. 3 Arizona men’s basketball team will face off against Oregon State on Wednesday night at Gill Coliseum.
Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. MST and will be televised on Fox Sports 1. This will be the penultimate game of the regular season.
Oregon State (15-13, 7-9 Pac-12 Conference) will look for its first upset over a top-five team since 2000, when it beat the No. 3-ranked Wildcats, 70-69, in overtime at home. This Arizona (27-2, 14-2) squad is looking to become the first UA team to lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense since the school joined the league in 1978.
After 78 meetings, Arizona holds a 57-20 game advantage over the Beavers and has won 21 of 35 games in Corvallis, Ore. The Wildcats have also won the last six contests against Oregon State, with the Beavers’ last win coming on a one-point decision in January 2011 at Gill Coliseum.
Oregon State senior guard Roberto Nelson tries to find his way through the Wildcat defense during Arizona's 76-54 win against OSU in McKale Center on Feb. 9. Nelson could be the first Beaver to lead the conference in scoring since Gary Payton in 1990.
UA head coach Sean Miller said that this week, the Wildcats will play as if they are still fighting for the Pac-12 championship.
Junior guard Nick Johnson said the UA can’t become complacent on this road trip, despite the fact that it just clinched a league title.
“For me, 16-2 sounds a lot better than 14-4 in conference,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to approach it like we’re playing to win. We’re playing for a seed, and at the end of the day, we want to control our own destiny and get put in the best situation possible.”
A loss could damage the UA’s chances for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
“We have a tough road trip ahead of us,” Johnson said, “but we’re clicking on all cylinders right now. We’ve just got to approach it like its any other game.”
Miller said that Oregon State has some talented, physical seniors who are playing in their last home stand.
“We don’t want to do anything differently,” Miller said. “We’re going to practice everything the same, because if we take our eyes off of that, we’ll be vulnerable. Oregon State is always difficult [at its home court].”
Who to watch for:
Roberto Nelson – senior guard – #55
– 6-foot-4, 198 pounds
– Averaging 20.6 points, 3.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game this season.
Nelson has had more 20-point games this year (16) than he had in his first three seasons combined (15). He is on track to become the first Oregon State player to lead the conference in scoring since former NBA star Gary Payton did in 1990. Nelson has led the Pac-12 in scoring every week this season and needs just 35 points to move into fourth place on Oregon State’s all-time shooting list.
In his last contest against the Wildcats, Nelson scored 10 points and collected four assists, two rebounds and a steal; however, he was limited to 3-for-12 shooting from the field and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.
Eric Moreland – junior forward – #15
– 6-foot-10, 218 pounds
–Averaging 8.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game this season.
Despite missing the first 12 games of the season due to a violation of team rules, Moreland leads the team in double-figure rebounding games (10) and is tied for the team lead with five double-doubles.
The last time Oregon State played Arizona, Moreland grabbed eight boards and finished the night with four points, two blocks, a steal and an assist.
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17