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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pride at stake for Beavers

    Arizona forward Jordan Hill pulls down a rebound in the Wildcats 76-63 win over Oregon State on Jan. 3 in McKale Center. The Beavers have lost their last 18 games and could become the first winless team in Pac-10 history with two losses this weekend.
    Arizona forward Jordan Hill pulls down a rebound in the Wildcats’ 76-63 win over Oregon State on Jan. 3 in McKale Center. The Beavers have lost their last 18 games and could become the first winless team in Pac-10 history with two losses this weekend.

    Opponent Analysis

    And the Wildcats thought they were having a wacky season.

    As the Arizona men’s basketball team tries to finish its regular season with a push toward its 24th consecutive NCAA appearance, Oregon State, which hasn’t been to the Big Dance in 18 years, is just trying to finish with pride.

    The Beavers are overdue for a win, having lost their last 18 games,ÿincluding all 16 of their Pacific 10 Conference matches.

    “”I believe that we are going to get a win, I really do,”” OSU guard Lathan Wallace told the Oregon media after an 80-68 loss to the Ducks in Corvallis, Ore., on Sunday.

    Six-year OSU head coach Jay John,ÿa former assistant under UA head coach Lute Olson, was released Jan. 20. after starting the season 6-12 and was replaced by assistant coach Kevin Mouton. John was given a five-year contract extension in December 2005, so the school owes him approximately $1.1 million, according to The Oregonian.

    Mouton, who played at Oregon under John in 1985-86, said he still talks to John everyday and plans on playing golf with him after the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles next week.

    OSU has lost 10 straight games since the coaching change, but that doesn’t mean the team hasn’t gotten better.

    Just ask UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill.

    “”They’re more up-tempo. I actually think Kevin (Mouton) has done a really nice job with this team,”” O’Neill said, bringing up the fact that Arizona trailed OSU by seven points a quarter of the way through the second half when the teams played in McKale Center on Jan. 3. “”I think they play much more aggressively.””

    Nevertheless, Mouton said opposing players aren’t giving the Beavers, who have been outscored 1,951-1,696 this season, enough respect.

    “”Kids are kids, and kids don’t take us serious,”” Mouton said. “”Coaches take us serious. And after about a good three or four minutes and we start playing well, then the coaches reel ’em in and get after them and tell them, ‘Look, this is what we’ve been telling you about Oregon State all week.'””

    As in the Wildcats’ case, the variation of the Beavers’ roster makes it harder to develop a winning game plan.

    Arizona has started 10 different players and lineups and OSU has started 12 players and has used 16 different lineups. Arizona’s main justification has been injuries, while the Beavers’ issues have been more complex.

    Freshman guard Michael Stovall left the team after seven games, Kansas transfer C.J. Giles was dismissed after John was fired, UConn transfer Marcus Johnson was at OSU for a short time before transferring to USC and Utah transfer Daniel Deane left the team for personal issues.

    In addition to the transfers, forwards Marcel Jones and Sean Carter were suspended and didn’t play at UCLA after the duo interrupted the end of Washington’s practice at Gill Coliseum on Feb. 15 before UW head coach Lorenzo Romar intervened, according to the Seattle Times. Mouton said the suspensions were not about the “”Washington thing.””

    Then Carter was suspended again for violating team rules and watched Sunday’s loss to Oregon in street clothes.

    “”The guys, when I first took over, the first thing I told them is that I wasn’t going to deal with any immaturity or anything as far as missing class,”” Mouton said. “”And when they did miss class, I held them accountable for that.””

    The Beavers, who average a conference-low 60.5 points per game, are led by Jones (10.7 ppg) and guard Seth Tarver (10.4 ppg), but any Beaver can shine given the team’s circumstances.

    “”They’re desperate for a win and we know we never play well in
    Corvallis,”” said UA guard Jawann McClellan, despite an 18-12 all-time record against the Beavers at Gill Coliseum, including 6-4 in the last 10 trips to the Northwest.

    As O’Neill has frequently saidÿ- especially in the Pac-10 where it’s been done over and over before – any team can beat any other team on any given night, and Mouton agreed.

    “”I think people realize since we made the change in the middle of the season, even though we haven’t won, they understand that we’re not just gonna roll over,”” Mouton said. “”And I think (other teams) are also preparing because they don’t want to be the first team to lose to us, but they also understand that our guys are still playing hard and trying to get that first win.””

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