4. Oregon State Beavers (14-7, 6-3 Pac-12) LW: 7
Initially one of the Pac-12’s surprise teams, Oregon State has recovered that notion, climbing to a tie for second in the conference standings after victories over Colorado and Utah.
The road sweep was the Beavers’ first in 10 years, and at 6-3, the group matched its best start to a conference season since the 1992-93 campaign. With five of its final nine contests at home, there is a legitimate chance Oregon State could achieve its first winning season in league action since 1989-90.
The team benefited again from the play of Tres Tinkle, who was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the third time in his career. The junior forward averaged 25 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists, extending his season averages to 20.8, 8.1 and 4.1, respectively.
Per the Pac-12 website and College Basketball Reference, Tinkle is the only player in Division 1 to average that stat line.
While he, along with Stephen and Ethan Thompson, have consistently produced, the Beavers needed strong performances from surrounding pieces. Gligorije Rakocevic added the spark against the Buffaloes, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting off the bench. Kylor Kelley, who leads the Pac-12 in blocks per game (3.7), totaled six against the Utes.
Now tied with Arizona State and USC for second place, the Beavers will get a crack at both in two of the next three weeks. If they prevail, an outside chance at an NCAA Tournament berth may become favorable.
The journey begins with this week’s homestand, starting tomorrow against Stanford and concluding Saturday with California.