Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews for Jan. 22


Pac-12There are two games on Sunday in the Pac-12 when Oregon State faces California and Colorado hosts Washington State.

I preview both games here and my picks appear at the bottom.

Oregon State at California

Sunday, January 22
Noon PT, Pac-12 Network

Entering the matchup in Berkeley on a six-game losing streak, the Beavers look to get back on track.

California has been without leading scorer Devin Askew since December 30th and his status for the matchup is questionable. That leaves DeJuan Clayton to carry much of the load.

The senior transfer is 6-for-26 from the field after dropping 26 on Stanford earlier this month. His efficiency figures to be one of the deciding factors for the Bears.

Oregon State, on the other hand, has yet to win a true road game this season. Led by a trio of guards and an underrated frontcourt, the Beavs aren’t able to put it all together away from Corvallis.

Cal center Lars Thiemann attempts to block a shot vs Oregon | Jed Jacobsohn/AP

The two teams are statistically mirrored in many ways, likely indicating a close matchup. Turnovers, then, figure to loom large.

California does a slightly better job of taking care of the ball and should commit fewer than their average at home. The key, though, will be forcing OSU mistakes.

Wayne Tinkle’s team is young and could get sped up with consistent ball pressure. Creating tips and jumping passing lanes will be pivotal.

But the Bears might not walk away with the win if Lars Thiemann has an off game. The center has a size advantage over any player OSU can throw at him and has the skill to score 15 points or more.

If Thiemann shoots the ball efficiently and the Bears win the turnover margin, California should defend its home court.

Washington State at Colorado

Sunday, January 22
3:00 pm PT, ESPNU

Each needing to salvage the weekend, the Buffs and Cougs face off for a mid-afternoon tip in Boulder.

Mouhamed Gueye has a somewhat favorable matchup with Lawson Lovering and should get fed from the opening tip. Lovering has a comparable body type to defend the Washington State big, but Gueye is quicker and exponentially more skilled.

Gueye might not win the battle every possession, yet should score plenty of points on the Colorado sophomore.

The altitude problems from Thursday night remain, though. The thinner air disproportionally affects three-point shooting teams and the 26.1 percent performance from Salt Lake City might be repeated.

If that happens, WSU must not be overly reliant on the three. Kyle Smith might consider playing Gueye and Adrame Diongue together to create a stronger mismatch in the paint.

Buffs center Lawson Lovering grabs a rebound vs UW | Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

The Buffs’ primary weakness is their frontcourt and Smith has the pieces to take advantage.

At the same time, Colorado is sloppy with the ball.

If the Cougars force Tad Boyle’s team to exceed their average of 14.2 turnovers per contest they should be in good shape.

On the other bench, CU must continue to rebound the ball at a high clip. The Buffs are among the top teams in College Basketball at securing rebounds and should continue that trend against a WSU team that is just average at securing boards.

It could come down to the wire, but if Colorado prevents second-chance opportunities with strong defensive rebounding while defending the three, it should find a way to win.


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