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Arizona, OSU have a lot in common

Citizen Staff Writer



CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State and Arizona are both playing with confidence, use zone defenses and believe in their respective new coaches.

They look like mirror teams at the moment with one exception: Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell doesn’t have a relative in the White House.

Craig Robinson, brother-in-law of President Obama, has led Oregon State to four straight victories since the president was inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Arizona has won three straight, and has played well the last two weeks.

Robinson has transformed the Beavers from a team that went 0-18 in league last year to “probably the hottest team,” Pennell said.

“It seems like we keep running into the hottest teams. We’ll have to be ready for them. They’re playing with confidence.”

The two teams will play Thursday to break a three-way tie for sixth place in the Pac-10. Each is 4-5, as is Washington State.

Officials ejected Robinson from McKale Center in UA’s 64-47 win Jan. 12. It seems to have helped fire up his team.

“Some of the intensity you’re seeing comes from me, and it also comes from winning games,” he said (see blog, 2C).

The Beavers are led by guard Calvin Haynes, who is averaging 16.2 points.

Pennell credits UA’s success to a “businesslike” approach.

“I don’t know about the swagger part,” he said. “I hope that our guys believe in what we are doing, and I think they are. . . . We’ve got a purpose. That’s the thing we have to capture and take with us on the road.”

The Cats (14-8) are 0-6 on the road but have won three neutral-site games.

“I think we will win a road game – I don’t know when, but I think we will,” Pennell said. “So much of winning a road game is you’ve got to be playing well before you go on the road.”

Arizona is playing well – compared with early January, when it went 2-5 to begin the league. Still, not winning on the road is an obstacle UA must break.

“I don’t want to make a big deal of it or it becomes psychological,” Pennell said.

Instead, the focus is on how the Wildcats have played lately, and that’s been with confidence and a sense of purpose. There’s also been a better bond that has developed within the team – led by veterans Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger and Nic Wise and freshman Kyle Fogg.

“There’s an accountability,” Pennell said, “and you’re playing not to let one of your brothers down. We’re getting closer.”


> UA-OSU breakdown, rosters, stats

> Jordan Hill to fans: ‘Don’t abandon us.’

> Arizona women look for home win.

Arizona (14-8, 4-5) at Oregon State (10-10, 4-5)

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Line: UA by 5

TV: FSNA. Radio: 1290 AM, 107.5 FM

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