Game #9-155: Oregon State at Portland State VikingsDecember 12, 2012 10:35 pm
You can group non-conference games below the Red Line into three common groups: The game against a non-D1, a mid-major visiting a school above the Red Line, or two mid-majors playing each other. A fourth type of game is the most uncommon. This is the game in which a team from above the Red Line goes on the road to play a school below the Red Line. This has already happened once in Portland, when UNLV came to play the Pilots. The Chiles Center holds about 5000 so teams from bigger conferences coming to visit is not unheard of. The other D1 school in Portland, Portland State, plays in the 1500-seat Stott Center. Seeing a major conference team like Oregon State in such a small gym is exceedingly rare. In fact December 12 was the first time a Pac 12 team had ever visited the Stott Center, instead of playing the Vikings in Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Garden, the arenas the NBA's Trail Blazers used to and currently call home, respectively. I've only followed the Vikings closely for about three seasons or so but I've seen plenty of Big Sky opponents play the Pilots, as well as Big West and WAC visitors. Games against opponents above the Red Line, though? I always eagerly anticipate those.
Understandably the PSU athletic department was very excited to host such a game. They expected a sellout and got one, and promoted the night as a white out, with t-shirts for most fans (you can see these in the above photo). Unfortunately at least half the crowd was Beaver fans so the athletic department didn't get the desired effect. Still, I haven't even seen the Stott Center full. Perhaps some of the fans who came last night will return for more Viking games. I ended up seated in a section of longtime Viking boosters who were intelligent and knowledgeable about the game. As it turns out the gentleman next to me actually lives in a neighborhood not far from me and we had a nice chat about the area. It is a small world, as he observed.
Many mid-vs,-major games start with the underdog energized and on an early run. This was the case here as Vikings guard Lateef McMullan scored 8 of their first 10 points and PSU had a 10-3 lead at the first media timeout. OSU had an advantage in the post and tried to go to Joe Burton early but he had little success finding open looks. The Vikings were at their best scoring on fast breaks by their guards or finding Renado Parker in the paint. The lead stayed as large as 9 for the first 11 minutes of the game. Obviously there was lots of time left but it was a good start for the Vikings.
Eventually, however, OSU adjusted its defense. The Beavers have lots of long athletic defenders who are effective at the trap, forcing 12 steals and 18 total turnovers from the Vikings. On offense their forwards began to assert themselves and use their athleticism to get around the Viking defenders. The Beavers went into halftime up six, 32-36. The 15-point turnaround in the last 8:40 was keyed by 10 points in the paint, as well as five free throws from shooting fouls In addition to Burton the Beavers have a good collection of small forwards like Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, who both featured in the comeback. I know Viking fans will be upset by the game's 29-9 free throw difference in favor of the Beavers, but OSU was more aggressive going to the basket all night. Maybe there were some missed handchecks or holds on the Beavers (total fouls were PSU 21, OSU 13) but OSU did earn their free throws. and the officials were not to blame here.
I wrote in my Portland-UNLV recap that empty possessions are the death of a mid-major when trying for a Red Line upset. You need to get something out of every time down the floor. The Vikings were within two at the 15:55 mark of the second half. What happened in the next 3:21?
Portland State: 6 possessions, 2/3 FG (1 layup), 3 TO, 4 points
Oregon State: 7 possessions, 7/7 FG (all layups), 14 points
I know this is a small sample size but basketball games turn on short stretches like this. When you allow that many points in the paint and have trouble scoring it's going to be hard to win, regardless of what side of the line you live on. The Vikings did get back to within five in the final minute, but by then they were forced to foul and try for quick scores. The 79-74 final was a fair result in the end and left the Viking team with plenty of areas to look at for improvement.
One issue it seemed to me PSU had was getting away from Parker until it was too late. He finished with 16 points but could have had more had the Vikings not kept trying high-risk cross court passes and jump shots. The area he and the rest of the Viking big men could work on, though, is defending the post. As I mentioned above, the Vikings allowed too many points in the paint. Collier and Burton did not have much trouble scoring 23 and 20 points, respectively. Burton in particular impressed me with his good shooting touch and variety of post moves, especially for a guy his size.
OREGON STATE 79, at PORTLAND STATE 74
Portland State is now 1-6 with just on more nonconference game left, against non-D1 George Fox, before Big Sky play starts on December 20 against Idaho State, with title favorite Weber State following two days later. The conference season is starting early with the expansion to 11 teams and 20 games so the Vikings don't have much time before the games really start to count.
OREGON STATE 6-2 (0-0) -- J. Burton 10-17 0-2 20; R. Nelson 5-12 5-8 16; E. Moreland 6-9 2-4 14; D. Collier 8-14 7-11 23; A. Starks 0-4 4-4 4; C. Barton 1-2 0-0 2; J. Reid 0-0 0-0 0; L. Morris-Walker 0-1 0-0 0; O. Schaftenaar 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-59 18-29 79.
PORTLAND STATE 1-5 (0-0) -- R. Parker 8-13 0-0 16; L. McMullan 6-10 2-2 16; M. Harthun 4-11 3-6 11; A. Moore 7-7 0-0 14; M. Hall 2-5 0-0 4; G. Winston 0-2 0-0 0; D. Winston Jr. 4-6 1-1 9; M. Harvey 1-3 0-0 2; B. Cataldo 0-1 0-0 0; M. Whitmore 1-1 0-0 2; L. Prosser 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-59 6-9 74.
Three-point goals: ORSU 1-6 (R. Nelson 1-2; A. Starks 0-2; C. Barton 0-1; L. Morris-Walker 0-1), POST 2-12 (M. Harthun 0-5; L. McMullan 2-4; M. Harvey 0-1; G. Winston 0-2); Rebounds: ORSU 26 (J. Burton 7), POST 24 (M. Hall 6); Assists: ORSU 17 (R. Nelson 6), POST 12 (L. McMullan 4); Total Fouls -- ORSU 13, POST 21; Fouled Out: ORSU-C. Barton; POST-M. Hall.