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WSU vs. Oregon State basketball: Cougs try to snap 14-game skid

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They have a tall task against a team with NCAA tournament aspirations.

Gary Payton II is a tremendous all-around player.
Gary Payton II is a tremendous all-around player.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars are trying to snap their longest skid in more than a decade when they travel to Corvallis, Oregon, today to take on the Oregon State Beavers.

Tip off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PT from Gill Coliseum. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12.com. You can also listen to Matt Chazanow's call of the game on the Washington State IMG Sports Network via TuneIn.com.

If "something to play for" is a real thing, then the Beavers definitely have the Cougars outflanked in this one. OSU sits at 16-10 (7-8 Pac-12) and squarely on the bubble. Defeating another bubble team -- Washington -- on Wednesday has put the Beavers back into the tournament conversation; they're currently projected as in the field as a 10 seed by the Bracket Matrix, one of the final eight or so teams in the field.

In other words, there's still plenty of opportunity for OSU to fall out of favor, and a loss to Washington State (at home, no less) would be absolutely devastating.

Fortunately for the Beavers, even if we forget the fact that WSU is in the midst of a historic tailspin, the Cougars are probably a great matchup for them to get a handy victory.

The WSU offense has struggled mightily at times, and it's usually tied to the Cougars' issues with taking care of the ball. You likely already know WSU is one of the worst teams in the country at preventing turnovers, which means they hardly need a lot of help giving it away; unfortunately for the Cougs, Oregon State is one of the better teams in the country at forcing turnovers, led by Gary Payton II, who has his father's proclivity for thievery.

Defensively, WSU will have to deal with Gary Payton II, one of the handful of current Pac-12 player of the year candidates thanks to his tremendous all-around game. He's not much of a shooter, but that's about all he doesn't do well. He has a tremendous ability to get to the rim and finish, but he's also adept at finding the open man -- he boasts the conference's top assist rate. He's also his team's best rebounder, leading in both defensive and offensive rebound percentage.

Did we mention he's 6-foot-3? WSU simply doesn't have a good defensive option for limiting him, with Ike Iroegbu, Charles Callison and Ny Redding all either giving up height, or weight, or both.

The other big matchup problem for WSU is Tres Tinkle, son of coach Wayne Tinkle. Just a freshman, the younger Tinkle has come on strong in his past four games, scoring 16 or more in each contest. He's 6-foot-8/220 and an inside-outside face-up threat who is adept at getting to the free throw line with great frequency. Will Ernie Kent try and attack him with size and have Josh Hawkinson draw that assignment, even at the risk of getting him in foul trouble? Or will he start 6-foot-7 Brett Boese? Or will he go small with 6-foot-5 Que Johnson on him?

Oddly enough, this is the only meeting between the two teams this season, thanks to the unbalanced schedule brought about by conference expansion. Kenpom.com predicts this to be a game OSU wins 88 out of 100 times by an average score of 78-65.

Anyway, go Cougs! Sports, right? You never know!