Beavers miss their chance on a fun night at Moda Center
Oregon passed the test at the first Phil Knight Invitational. Oregon State didn't.
The state's Pac-12 schools convened at Moda Center on Tuesday night against opposition worthy of credential-building for postseason tournament play.
The 14th-ranked Ducks (3-0) built their case with an 82-74 victory over No. 13 Memphis in the opener.
The Beavers (2-1) flubbed their opportunity, dropping a 77-69 decision to Oklahoma in the nightcap.
Coming off an impressive home win over Iowa State last Saturday, Oregon State hoped to keep the momentum going against an Oklahoma team that won 20 games last season, losing to eventual national champion Virginia 63-51 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This year's Sooners (3-0) hit only 11 of 40 3-point shots in their first two games and were 4 for 11 from beyond the arc in taking a 33-32 halftime lead Tuesday night. Then they found the range, sinking 7 of 11 attempts from the 3-point line in the second half.
"We told our guys not to look at the stats this year," OSU coach Wayne Tinkle said.
Oregon State, meanwhile, was slogging through the first 33 minutes, operating at snail's pace at the offensive end while falling behind 66-46 with seven minutes to play. Then Ethan Thompson's 3-point shot began a 21-7 flurry — the Beavers hit six shots in a row to start it off — that brought the Beavers to within 73-67 with 36 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, OSU's Zach Reichle wrestled the ball out of Austin Reaves' hands and got it to Thompson, whose layup spun off the rim with 25 seconds to go, blowing a chance to draw the Beavers within four points. And it was over.
It was that kind of game for Thompson, who missed so many shots around the basket, it seemed as if there were a lid on it.
"I missed a few, and then I started to rush them," said Thompson, who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists but was 6 for 17 from the field. "Got to calm myself down."
Tres Tinkle — the son of Coach Tinkle — had an off shooting night, too, missing five of his first six attempts. Tres and Thompson combined for 2-for-12 shooting in the first half. Tinkle wound up with 18 points, 10 boards, five assists and three steals but was 7 for 17 from the field. The 6-7 senior missed all four of his 3-point attempts after going 9 for 13 in the first two games.
Veteran Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said the Sooners paid particular defensive attention on Tres, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week.
"Tinkle is such a good player, you have to cheat on him as much as you can," Kruger said. "He's going to score. We made him work pretty hard for his points, for his shots, but he's a terrific player. His instincts are so good. He scores, but he's a team guy. He makes players around him better."
Tres, who faced double-team pressure with every drive to the basket, called the Oklahoma game "a reality check for us."
"Every team we're going to face is going to try to take me and Ethan out of the game," he said. "(The Sooners) were switching everything. It was hard to figure out what was working. We'll watch (game video) and learn from it."
Oregon State used a lot of 2-3 zone and had difficulty getting out to the Sooner shooters, especially in the second half. But offense was the biggest problem, especially with Tinkle and Thompson. At one point midway through the second half, the scoreboard operator inadvertently kept playing the "Regurge-i-cam" on the Jumbotron through the game action. Maybe it was a good thing.
"We couldn't throw it in the ocean there for a while, and we carried some frustrations at the defensive end," Coach Tinkle said. "We were missing some assignments, doing things not typical of our 'D.' That piled things on for us."
The Beavers shot .409 from the field, but it was .339 until the torrid final seven minutes, when they hit 9 of their 13 attempts.
"I'm proud of the guys for showing great effort at the end," Coach Tinkle said. "That's the way we needed to play for 40 minutes."
Oregon took care of a Memphis team that starts five freshmen in Penny Hardaway's second season as head coach. The foremost Tiger is 7-1 center James Wiseman, playing on a temporary injunction after being ruled ineligible by NCAA for recruiting violations by Hardaway before he was coach.
If Wiseman is going the route, maybe Memphis deserves to be ranked. Without him, not so much.
Wiseman played only five first-half minutes after picking up two quick fouls and departed for the rest of the half. The big man played most of the second half and finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes, but he wasn't the factor he would have been, which was fortunate for the Ducks.
"He's a phenomenal talent, someone who is going to play basketball for a long time," Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
The ultra-young Tigers shot only .377 from the field, including 4 for 23 (.174) from 3-point range. They hung in with the Ducks to the end, though, thanks in part to 18 Oregon turnovers that led to 25 Memphis points.
"Our ball handling was really sloppy," Altman said. "We knew they were going to pressure us, but we tried to do too much and got in trouble a lot of times."
Senior point guard Payton Pritchard is the savvy veteran of the group, and though he had six turnovers — including two in the final minutes — he also had 14 points and six assists and made the biggest basket of the game. With Oregon leading 67-63, five minutes on the clock and Wiseman switched out on him, Pritchard hit a step-back 3 for a 70-63 lead.
The Ducks have plenty of new talent to add to holdovers Pritchard, guard Will Richardson and center Francis Okoro, but the ones I liked best Tuesday night were the trio who joined Pritchard and Richardson in the starting lineup — forwards Shakur Juiston and Chris Duarte and guard Anthony Mathis.
Juiston, a 6-7 junior transfer from Hutchinson (Kansas) JC, collected 17 points and 10 rebounds while playing 35 minutes. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts and had five turnovers, but he's active, athletic and physical.
Duarte, a 6-6 junior transfer from Northwest Florida State, had seven points in the first 10 minutes before suffering a knee injury that kept him out most of the rest of the way. "It's a bruise, so we think he'll be fine," Altman said. Duarte is a heady customer, talented enough that he was the national JC player of the year last season. He's going to be a big help to the Ducks.
Mathis is the former West Linn High standout — and prep teammate of Pritchard — who is a grad transfer from New Mexico. The 6-4 Mathis knocked down 4 of 5 3-point shots against Memphis, making him 13 for 16 from beyond the arc in the last two games. If nothing else, he'll be an important long-range threat for the Ducks this season.
Freshmen Chandler Lawson and Addison Patterson had their moments, too, Memphis native Lawson against some of his home boys.
"Now I got bragging rights," he said.
Oregon, 25-13 a year ago while reaching the Sweet 16, may yet develop into that type of team again. Games against Memphis, Houston, Seton Hall and — perhaps — Gonzaga this month should help prepare them, though it sounds as if Altman would prefer playing more tomato cans so he can slip more playing time to play the freshmen.
"We don't have as many (walkovers) in November as we traditionally do," Altman said. "Our November schedule is really tough. You like to have some games where you can get your freshmen in a better flow offensively. Against (Memphis), I just felt comfortable with the vets.
"That will change as the season goes on and they get more comfortable and their talent comes out. It's a good learning experience for us. Hopefully, we'll keep getting better."
Oregon and Oregon State are contracted to play on PKI twinbills at Moda Center through 2021, which is a good thing. A program note: The first game must start at 5:30 p.m. if the second one is to start at 8 p.m. Oregon-Memphis tipped off at 6 p.m., and OSU-Oklahoma didn't get started until 8:30 p.m. That's too late.
But it was fun to have Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas in the house, calling the action on ESPN/ESPN2, with a plethora of NBA scouts among the 7,246 in attendance. Good stuff all around.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.