Two Pac-12 teams in desperate need of a conference victory meet when Oregon State visits Stanford at Palo Alto, Calif., on Thursday.
Oregon State (7-11, 1-6 Pac-12) is looking to end a five-game losing streak, while Stanford (5-12, 0-7) remains winless in conference play.
The Beavers carry a 17-game road losing streak into Thursday’s contest, but coach Wayne Tinkle is optimistic about his team’s chances following a close loss to much-improved Arizona State on Saturday.
Oregon State started four freshmen in the 74-69 loss to the Sun Devils, with forward Michael Rataj (17 points) leading the way.
Fellow freshman Tyler Bilodeau is averaging 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds over his past five games for the Beavers, who finished 3-28 last season.
“(Rataj) and a couple other guys kind of reached that moment where we’ve got to start playing with a little more desperation,” Tinkle said. “Those guys know what we’re building for moving forward. They’re buying in. They’re practicing the right way. The confidence has developed.”
Oregon State has lost eight of its last 12 meetings against Stanford, which is starting a run of four consecutive home games.
The Cardinal lost 60-59 to Washington State on Saturday despite another strong effort from sophomore forward Maxime Raynaud, who had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 preseason media poll, Stanford needs more production around forward Spencer Jones. The 6-foot-7 senior is averaging 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in conference play.
Harrison Ingram was named Pac-12 freshman of the year for 2021-22 after averaging 10.5 points and 6.7 rebounds last season, but the 6-7 forward has scored in double figures just twice in his last eight games.
Stanford is last in the league in defense during conference play, allowing 75.7 points per game. Stanford’s defensive woes were exposed in an 86-69 loss at Washington on Jan. 12, when the Huskies shot 55.9 percent from the field.
–Field Level Media