Washington Huskies (14-8, 3-7) at Oregon State (15-7, 6-4), Sunday February 8th, 1:30 pm, Fox Sports 1.
Oregon State has been a pleasant surprise in Coach Tinkle's first year. Last week's 0-2 road trip down to Arizona was a bit of a setback, but the Beavers rallied with a 55-50 win over the Cougars on their home court.
Meanwhile, the Huskies have lost four games in a row, including two heartbreaking defeats to Cal and Oregon in the past week. The last three losses have come since Upshaw's dismissal. The effort has still been there, and the offense has somehow managed to score at least 74 points in all three games.
The problem has been a total lack of cohesive defense and an inability to execute at the end of close contests.
Probable Starters: G Gary Payton III (Jr., 6-3, 175), G Malcolm Duvivier (So., 6-2, 205), G Langston Morris-Walker (Jr., 6-5, 216), F Daniel Gomis (Jr., 6-10, 223), F Olaf Schaftenaar (Jr., 6-10, 224).
Key Bench Players: F Jarmal Reid (Jr., 6-7, 231).
When these teams last met, the Huskies were in the midst of another four-game losing streak, and they managed to snap it by holding the Beavers to a paltry 43 points. The problem is that Upshaw contributed 12 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocks that night, and now that production will need to come from somewhere else.
It's possible to look at this game as a showdown between Oregon State's horrible offensive production (less than 60 points in four straight games) and Washington's lackluster defense (77+ points allowed in the last four).
The matchup between NWG and Gary Payton III figures to be a captivating one. In their last meeting, Payton only scored 4 points but chipped in 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks. Williams-Goss scored only 8 on 3-8 shooting, but dished 7 assists to 3 turnovers.
Since that game, and especially since Upshaw's dismissal, Williams-Goss has been on an offensive tear. In his last three, NWG has shot 7-11, 11-17, and 9-11 from the field, including a minimum of 5 assists.
Payton has continued to play nearly 40 minutes a night and stuff the stat sheet without having to take too many shots.
The offense as a whole is extremely balanced. Payton leads the team with 12.0 points, but the other four starters all average at least 9.0.
Duvivier is a capable second ball-handler, actually leading the team with 3.5 assists (compared to 3.0 for Payton).
Schaftenaar is a dangerous three-point shooter (42% from deep this season) who will likely attempt to shoot early and often in an effort to bust Washington's zone defense.
Like Washington, the Beavers play a very short rotation. Robbins and Reid are the only consistent contributors off the bench, meaning Payton and Duvivier are always required to play at least 35 minutes.
However, Robbins is serving a suspension, leaving the Beavers even more critically short-handed. In the win over WSU, Coach Tinkle elected to mostly stick to a six-man rotation, with backup center Cheikh N'Diaye also checking in for five minutes.
Expect a similar approach on Sunday, especially with Washington also forced to give significant minutes to no more than seven players.
Williams-Goss will have his hands full trying to score against Payton, but he has been more assertive and fairly smart with his shot selection as of late. Andrews has also been surprising efficient in his past two games, shooting well over 60% from the field.
The issue will be in the front-court, as the Beavers boast three competent forwards to Washington's one. A lot will be riding on Dorsey, Anderson, and even Darin Johnson's ability to defend and rebound in the post. Kemp will also need to avoid foul trouble, which has been a consistent problem for him.
Luckily, Schaftenaar is not an especially physical player, and he spends a fair amount of time around the perimeter. Plus, Jarmal is only 6-7 and shouldn't be a huge problem for Dorsey or Anderson.
Overall, I think this is Washington's defense will succeed in holding Oregon State's struggling offense to less than 60 points, and that with strong games from Wiliams-Goss and Andrews, they'll be able to score just enough to scrape out a road win.
Just don't be hold your breath if it comes down the last possession.
Washington 63, Oregon State 57