Oregon State switches up starting lineup and rotation in 85-70 win over No.21 USC

Freshman guard Stephen Thompson Jr. scored 11 points in 20 minutes off the bench in the Beavers 85-70 victory over USC.

Michael Kiever, Sports Reporter

To stop confusion, the Beavers shorten player rotation against Trojans

Sunday’s 85-71 win over No. 21 USC marked a change in philosophy for head coach Wayne Tinkle. Instead of trying to please everyone, he put feelings aside and did what was best for the team. 

“I put a lot of blame on myself for trying to keep everybody happy, and you can’t do that,” coach Tinkle said. “We made the decision that we were going to shorten the bench so that I have less to confuse me. It’s nothing against those guys.”

Coach Tinkle made the decision to not play senior forward Daniel Gomis and junior center Cheikh N’Diaye, opening minutes up for freshmen big men Drew Eubanks and Gligorije Rakocevic. Eubanks benefitted from the added minutes, finishing with three blocks and two steals in 26 minutes of play. He also seemed to be heavily featured on the offensive end, scoring 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting. 

“That was the point of emphasis yesterday at practice, pounding (USC) inside to begin with,” Eubanks said. “I just played off my teammates.”

Rakocevic also showed well in their absence, playing a career-high 14 minutes. Coach Tinkle praised his performance, particularly for his impact on the defensive end.

“(Rakocevic), first half coming in and getting five rebounds and establishing defensive presence, I’m proud,” coach Tinkle said.

Freshman forward Tres Tinkle also picked up some of the extra minutes. In the Beavers’ smaller lineups, Tinkle slid over to power forward while senior forward Langston Morris-Walker played at Tinkle’s usual small forward position. Tinkle manned the post effectively, scoring 18 points, nabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots while playing against a larger opponent.

“At times we (went small,)” coach Tinkle said. “What we wanted to do was shorten our bench a little bit.”

Gomis and N’Diaye may have seen their time reduced due to poor play. During the Beavers’ three game losing streak, N’Diaye and Gomis combined to grab only five rebounds. Despite the lack of court time, N’Diaye and Gomis were in high spirits.

“I give those guys a lot of credit for staying as positive as they did,” coach Tinkle said. “Shoot, N’Diaye was the first one in the locker room, fired up (saying) ‘coach, we had 20 assists!’”

With senior forward Jarmal Reid currently serving a four-game suspension for his ref-tripping incident, coach Tinkle’s frontcourt options have been thin. To combat the lack of depth against USC, Tinkle simply did not turn to his backups, instead relying heavily on the starters. Eubanks, freshman forward Tres Tinkle and the senior backcourt of Gary Payton II and Malcolm Duvivier all played above their season average in minutes, and the team came out victorious. At the end of the day, that is what counts.

“We’ve got to remove any individual stuff- minutes, shots- and just play for each other. Our guys did that (against USC), and you saw the level we were capable of getting to,” coach Tinkle said.

On Twitter @michaelkievaaa

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