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NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Arizona State

What to Watch For: Scouting WSU vs Oregon State

The Cougs look for the season sweep against the Beavers at home

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Cougs are coming off a great comeback against the Beavers in Corvallis and now look to secure the series sweep in Beasley. The Cougs’ final weekend at home against the Oregon schools will mark their ninth and tenth games in 23 days. The marathon stretch down the end of this season has taken its toll, but the Cougs are looking to end strong and enter the Pac-12 tournament on a winning streak.

The game will tip off from Beasley Coliseum at 8 p.m. PT. It can be watched on FoxSports1 or FoxSports.com (with a cable subscription).

Oregon State is desperate to get at least one more Pac-12 win before its season ends and WSU is one of the last chances they have to do it. The Beavers have now lost 15 straight, including two OT losses and some other heartbreaking close ones. OSU is definitely the worst team in the Pac-12, but is better than its record and has proven it can make good teams sweat before.

Oregon State Beavers

Offense:

The Beavers’ offense had one of their best showings of the season against WSU on Monday. They had their second best two-point shooting percentage of the year- 67.5%- and their best effective field goal percentage- 62.9%. This is representative of just how outlier their shooting performance was, specifically on difficult mid-range jumpers. They also offensive rebounded at a high level for them and they only turned the ball over at a 16.3% rate, which is once again above average for the Beavers. It was an overall great game for the Beavers’ offense, and they could win if they replicate it in Pullman. For the Coug defense, this was the second worst opponent effective field goal percentage they have allowed on the season, behind only South Dakota State. It was by far the best two-point percentage they had allowed to this point as well. It was also the highest Opponent Adjusted Efficiency by a mile, giving up a whopping 132.1 Efficiency Rating. The Cougs will need to tighten up the defense if they want to win in Pullman.

Oregon State beat the Cougs with a lot of simple pick-and-roll action because Dashawn Davis was good enough to operate effectively every time down the floor. Here, they set up the pick-and-roll with a pistol action into a weave to keep the off-ball defense occupied so the Davis gets the easy dump-off with no help defense.

Here it’s run again, and the Beavers get another good look. The Cougs try to ice this screen, but Davis gets to his right hand and Noah Williams gets clipped by the screen. This leaves Efe Abogidi out of position and he has to chase Davis down.

Oregon State did set up some actions with their bigs. Here, they set a pindown and a down screen looking to get easy pass to the basket. When nothing is there, they set a simple drag screen and the ball-handler gets right to the rim.

The biggest help for Oregon State’s offense in Corvallis was that they hit some absurd shots. Even when WSU played great defense, the Beavers were still able to score by hitting shots like these.

The Cougs occasionally went zone, and the Beavers were able to get whatever they wanted when they did. Oregon State put Davis in the high post and let him pick apart the zone. It would probably go the same way if the Cougs went back to this look.

Defense:

Oregon State’s defense looked about their usual selves against WSU. They allowed WSU to have their third best effective field goal percentage of the season- 66.9%- and their best two-point percentage of the season- 69.2%. The game was also played at about WSU’s average pace, meaning that WSU generally played their game despite being down double-digits at half. There is not much evidence that the Beavers have another defensive gear they can get to so the Cougs should be able to somewhat replicate their performance from Corvallis back at home in Pullman.

WSU had one of their best offensive games in a while, specifically in the second half, and a lot of that was because they ran their sets to perfection. This side out horns set is one the Cougs have ran earlier in the year, but it looked especially good against Oregon. Andrej Jakimovski was able to drive downhill well, and Michael Flowers gets a great look here off of some good off-ball movement.

Here is that same set again but switched into a pistol play and pick-and-roll between Jakimovski and Mouhamed Gueye. The Cougs were able to generate a lot of rim pressure against the Beavers and that opened up so much for their offense.

The Beavers help principles were completely out of whack in this game the Cougs guards were able to create some great looks because of it. Here, Flowers runs a pick-and-roll, pauses at the free throw line, reads that the wing defender is tagging the roll way too hard and unnecessarily, and Flowers delivers the dime to Jakimovski for the open three.

The Beavers defense struggled most when Roman Silva was in the game and that is because of his immobility. Silva is forced to hard hedge the screen, but because of that Jakimovski can get downhill. The Cougs don’t convert with a bucket here, but they played well against the hard hedge in general.

The one play WSU struggled to execute was their Spain pick-and-roll look. The timing just felt off and the moments where an advantage should be created, it wasn’t. Here, Tyrell Roberts sets the screen on Silva late and Abogidi doesn’t roll to the rim hard enough, creating nothing and forcing the Cougs to run an isolation. They are able to score because of OSU’s poor defense but figuring out the timing on this play is huge.

WSU sometimes played like they were too aware of Oregon State’s reputation as a bad team. Plays like this are just unnecessary and there are better and easier advantages to be created. However, they are able to grab the offensive rebound and get free throws on the putback. Offensive rebounding will remain a key for the Cougs in this one.

WSU mostly played at their pace, but there were moments where they allowed Oregon State to push it and it hurt the Cougs’ offense. When WSU is free styling and not playing within the flow, it is a major hinderance to the Cougs’ overall offensive efficacy. They need to avoid getting sped up and taking bad shots early in the shot clock.

Finally, Oregon State occasionally mixed in a 2-3 zone and the Cougs were able to beat it. When Gueye is on the floor, they have a specific path to beating it, but even without Gueye, the Cougs had a good understanding of the plays to run to get good looks against the zone.

Players to Watch:

Dashawn Davis has turned into one of the most exciting players in the Pac-12 in his recent stretch. Davis is a passing wizard, and he is on track to be the first Beaver to lead the Pac-12 in assists since Gary Payton Sr. His shot-making has also taken a jump from the beginning of the season. He creates a lot of space to get his jumpers off and his overall pick-and-roll play is simply stellar.

Glenn Taylor Jr is a true freshman that has had a solid season for the Beavers. He is averaging 6.3 points per game on 48/26/78 shooting splits. For a 6’6 wing, he has solid ball skills and good touch around the rim. Against the Cougs, he excelled at getting all the way to the rim and was able to finish over the Cougs’ bigs. He is not an elite playmaker or shooter, but he could continue to develop and be a force in the Pac-12 over his career. Any true freshman that contributes with real production is worth keeping an eye on.

Maurice Calloo had his best game of the season against WSU, hitting some impressive threes and tough mid-rangers over contests. The senior has not had a great year, but the 6’10 forward can stretch the floor and if he gets hot, he is tough to stop.

Washington State Cougars

Players to Watch:

Mouhamed Gueye had a very nice game against Oregon State in Corvallis, throwing down some monstrous slams and hitting some clutch free throws in overtime. Gueye is going to make a real push to win another Pac-12 Freshman of the Week and potentially make a case to win Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Gueye would be the first Coug to win the award since 1978-79, the first year the award was given out, when Bryan Rison took the award home. Gueye has had a truly impressive season, likely deserving of All-Pac-12 defensive honors at the end of the season and his offensive development throughout the season has been great to watch. Assuming he returns for his sophomore season, the Cougs can expect big things from Gueye going forward.

Dishon Jackson also had a nice offensive game against the Beavers. He put up ten points and six boards and helped keep the Cougs from falling into any scoring draughts. The biggest strength of Jackson is just that, his ability to be a hub for easy offense. WSU has had a past of falling into deep scoring draughts, but Jackson being able to score at any point on offense keeps that from being as big of a worry. The Cougs likely won’t need that type of safety valve against Oregon State’s swiss cheese defense, but it could be vital against Oregon, and it would be nice to see Jackson keep a rhythm going against the Beavers.

Michael Flowers has been on fire these last two games. He dropped 30 in the loss to UW and 27 against Oregon State, he also tallied 10 total rebounds and 10 total assists in both games. His shooting has been the most impressive thing, going 13-22 from deep and hitting quite a few tough shots to match. He has hit his stride in this recent stretch, and it has been a blast to watch. He is the Cougs’ most important player game in and game out and he could continue his hot streak and keep the Coug offense going.

Andrej Jakimovski only had six points against Oregon State, but I was impressed by his all-around play. Jakimovski had three assists in this game, and they were all the types of passes that point to his growth in that area. He had some dump-offs to bigs, kickouts to shooters, and all-around helped the offense keep moving. Long-term, his value will come a lot from being a playmaker with size who can shoot. His defense was also solid, and his all-around play sets him up to eventually blow-up as his usage grows. His development has been fun to watch this season.

What to Watch For:

Defensive preparedness is a huge key for WSU in this one. The Cougs got picked apart in the pick-and-roll in the last game and they need to be more keyed into Oregon Stats’s tendencies with that play. The Cougs’ bigs often stepped up at the last minute to take away a floater or a mid-ranger, which opened up dump-off passes to the Beavers’ bigs. If the big stepped up earlier, the player guarding the corner could tag the roll-man, but the Beavers were also adept at making skip passes to the open player in the corner. The best strategy would be trying to contain the pick-and-roll with two players, forcing the guard to get all the way to the rim and try to finish over the WSU rim protectors. Whatever the solution, the Cougs are going to have to tighten up their pick-and-roll defense.

Can we please just blow them out? As obvious as that sounds, this game feels primed to end in a blowout, and it would be refreshing for the Cougs to fulfill that. Oregon State hit a lot of shots and had a seemingly unsustainable offensive performance. If the Cougs step of the defense and continue to play offense at their usual level, they should win comfortably. This could end up another close game, especially if Dashawn Davis continues his hot stretch of play, but the Cougs have the capacity to take it to Oregon State and get the blowout win at home.

Question of the Game:

Will Dishon Jackson score a season high?

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