Winless in Pac-12 play, OSU men’s basketball tries to end five-game losing streak at home

For the Beavers’ men’s basketball team, an already disappointing season reached a new low on Saturday night. The 347th Civil War game against the 13th-ranked Oregon Ducks was a basketball catastrophe in which the Ducks scored the game’s first 21 points en route to a 30-point halftime lead and a 85-43 victory.

Sophomore Drew Eubanks led the way for OSU—scoring 19 points on 7-10 shooting—but no one followed. The rest of the team combined to shoot a lowly 9-41 from the field.

The loss was the Beavers fifth straight at the start of this Pac-12 season, and what is even more concerning is the scoring margin in those games—four of the losses have come by at least 13 points.

An inexperienced roster and the injury absence of explosive sophomore Tres Tinkle have been the most widely touted reasons for this season’s struggles. While it’s impossible to ignore the impact that these factors have had, head coach Wayne Tinkle insists that there is still opportunity for his team to turn the tide of the season.

“We all know it’s been tough, but we’ve still got a few areas that we’ve got to improve… valuing the ball, playing with purpose on both ends,” he said before the team’s practice on Tuesday. “If our guys can put together a 40 minute effort of the game plans that we’re giving them and have that lead to improvement and success, I think that’s going to help get the ball rolling.”

In a conference featuring three top-15 programs, the Beavers’ next stretch of games could be the best chance they get to do the things that Tinkle spoke of. Home games against Stanford and California followed by games at Colorado, and Utah makes a run of four games against unranked teams. In contrast, three of Oregon State’s first five conference games have been against top-25 opposition.

With Stanford yet to win on an opponent’s floor this season and Colorado on a five-game losing streak of their own, the Beavers will be looking to pick up a conference win or two by rectifying some of the mistakes that have plagued them on the court in recent games.

Sophomore Stephen Thompson, Jr. believes that one of the crucial areas that the team needs to address is their ball movement. The Beavers registered just six assists on 23 made field goals in their January 7th game against Washington, and added only 12 assists in the following game against the Ducks.

“In practice, we have days where we’re sharing the ball, we’re moving the ball, and getting movement offensively instead of holding the ball and staying stagnant,” said Thompson, Jr., “If we’re able to keep doing those things then we can put ourselves in a better position.”

“This is a great opportunity—these next couple of games at home—for us to execute that,” he added.

Eubanks also addressed the apparent naivety of the team’s offense in an interview.

“Sometimes we don’t understand what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot as a collective group,” he said. “A lot of that falls on Stevie [Thompson, Jr.] and I and the older guys because we’ve been there, we’ve played a lot last year, so now it’s up to us to teach the younger guys.”

Welcoming the Stanford Cardinal, a team with a 2-4 conference record thus far, to Gill Coliseum on Thursday night may be the best opportunity yet for the Beavers to pick up an elusive first Pac-12 win this season.

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