Citizen Staff Writer
OREGON ST. (6-6) AT NO. 21 UA (9-3), 6:30 P.M. THURSDAY, TV: FSNA, RADIO: 1290 AM
The last time the Oregon State men’s basketball team came to McKale Center, it proved a watershed moment for Arizona.
At least that’s how Arizona senior Jawann McClellan feels.
Since beating the Beavers a year ago in Tucson, UA has gone 16-12. That includes just a 7-9 mark last season in games following Arizona’s 83-72 win over the Beavers.
The Wildcats faded in the season’s final two months and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Purdue.
“This is a key game. Last year, we were sitting at 13-1 and then had a letdown against Oregon State,” McClellan said. “That changed the whole season. We were up something like 24 points and they came back and we only won by (11). Then we lost to Oregon the next game. And things changed.”
The teams meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at McKale.
After the win over OSU last year, Arizona lost four of its next five games.
The trouble started with the Beavers; UA seemed to lose focus and lacked the killer instinct.
All that seems to have changed. No. 21 Arizona is playing harder and with more purpose than in the past couple of seasons.
UA can’t do what it did last season in Pac-10 play: lose more than a few at home. UA lost five games at McKale, including four conference games.
“Our mentality is that we have to be ready to play; (if not) they will come in here ready to beat us and put an upset on us,” UA sophomore Chase Budinger said of the Beavers.
That can’t happen if UA hopes to return to glory under interim head coach Kevin O’Neill.
“We’ve proven we’re going to be one of the best teams in the conference, but now we have to show it,” Budinger said. “The past is in the past. We have to get things done now.”
• Starting lineups and stats for Arizona and Oregon State
• ASU has higher expectations
• UA women hope to rebound from losses to USC and UCLA in Oregon