First look at Men’s Basketball

OSU Men’s Basketball sophomore guard Antoine Vernon drives against Carroll College in Gill Coliseum early on in the 2019-20 season. 

Brady Akins, Sports Contributor

The Oregon State Beavers Men’s Basketball team had their first of two exhibition games for the season on Wednesday, Oct. 23, beating the Carroll College Fighting Saints 79-60 at Gill Coliseum.

The exhibition was the first game for this season’s Beavers Basketball team, and while the final result won’t impact their overall record, the match provided fans their first glance at what this team may look like going into their season opener. 

Few players made as strong an impact statistically as Oregon State’s senior forward Kylor Kelley. Kelley led the team in points, blocked shots and rebounds against the Fighting Saints, making an impact on both sides of the ball. 

While finishing second in the NCAA in blocked shots per game last year with 3.35, Kelley averaged 7.7 points per game during the 2018-19 season, fourth on the team. With 16 points against Carroll College on a game high 10 shot attempts, the team relied on Kelly on to score on Wednesday. Head coach Wayne Tinkle discussed the senior forward after the game and said that Kelley plays with confidence in a post game interview. 

“We were making an emphasis to throw it into him,” Tinkle said. “We’re going to expect big things from him all year.”

This season, the Beavers will be missing their four year guard in Stephen Thompson Jr. Thompson Jr. graduated last year as the program’s fourth leading scorer of all time. The guard played in all 31 of Oregon State’s games last year and averaged 16.1 points per game, leaving behind offensive production will need to be made up.

Coach Tinkle discussed how to maintain offensive production with the Beavers’ depth during his press conference at PAC-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day.

“Because of the talent in that depth, we’re going to be able to free up some guys that maybe have had a lot of pressure on them in the past to produce for us night in and night out,” Tinkle said during the Oct. 8 press conference. 

In the same press conference, Tinkle also made sure to emphasize the importance the Beaver’s depth will have on the defensive side of the ball, as well as on offense, pointing out the impact of resting players. Tinkle said the players did good things last season but the level of playing time had pressure on a few players. 

“I think that it caught up to us a little bit in the end and you saw that it and we lost some close games down the stretch,” Tinkle said. “I think we’ll be able to rest guys a little bit more…so that we can build the team and peak at the right time.”

Against Carroll College, the Beavers’ depth was on display. Though only an exhibition, Oregon State had nine players had over 10 minutes of game time against the Fighting Saints and got 24 points from their bench players as well.

Both the starting lineup and the players coming off the bench had a strong outing on defense, holding Carroll College to 34.3 percent on field goals and coming away with 11 blocked shots. 

Despite the win, the Beavers still showed they have room to grow on offense and defense. Oregon State ended the exhibition having allowed 15 offensive rebounds to the Fighting Saints, compared to the Beavers’ seven, and struggled with free throws, making 16 of their 32 attempts. 

Junior college transfer and Oregon State guard Sean Miller-Moore said to have patience with the team’s struggles while going through these exhibition matches before the season. 

“A lot of us have to get our nerves out,” Miller-Moore said in an interview after the game. “We work hard in practice, so we should be able to bring that to the game.”

The Beavers have one more exhibition match left on the schedule. They will welcome the Warner Pacific Knights to Gill Coliseum on Tuesday, Oct. 29. They will then take on California State University, Northridge at home as their season opener on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. 

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