GAME NOTES: Oregon State will try to capture its second College Basketball Invitational title, and they begin that effort with a first-round matchup against the Radford Highlanders at Gill Coliseum on Wednesday night.
In 2009, Oregon State went 5-1 in this event, with the lone loss coming in the best of three championship series against UTEP. The Beavers are 7-3 all-time in the CBI, and come into this year's version sporting a record of 16-15 overall, as they lost three of their last four games.
Radford, which has never been to the CBI, enjoyed one of its best seasons in recent memory. The Highlanders finished the regular season at 20-11, marking the first time since 1993-94 they earned 20 wins in the regular season. In the Big South Tournament they defeated Presbyterian (78-73) in the first round, before dropping a 96-87 decision to UNC Asheville in the quarterfinals.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs, and the winner advances to play either South Dakota State or Old Dominion in the next round.
The Highlanders connected on 52.2 percent of their field goal tries against UNCA, but they couldn't slow the Bulldogs down enough to pull off the upset. Radford was lit up for 62 percent shooting, while being outscored from 3-point range (27-18) and at the free-throw line (25-9) in the losing effort.
Scoring has not been an issue for Radford this season. In fact, the Highlanders' effort on offense is a major reason for their success. They are netting 78 ppg and shooting 47.8 percent from the floor, ranking among the top-25 in the country in the latter category. However, they are permitting their opponents to sink 45.9 percent of their total shots. Javonte Green (16.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2 spg) is a versatile forward, who finishes on 54.7 percent from the floor and anchors the team on the glass. R.J. Price (13.1 ppg), Ya Ya Anderson (11.2 ppg) and Rashun Davis (10.5 ppg) provide depth.
Oregon State didn't enjoy any wins in the Pac-12 Tournament, falling to in- state rival Oregon in an 88-74 final in the first round. The Beavers allowed the Ducks to connect on 57.7 percent from the field, including a 10-of-16 effort from 3-point range. The Beavers answered by sinking 60.5 percent of their own field goal tries, but they had just three 3-pointers and 15 turnovers.
The Beavers' scoring margin this season is as razor thin as their overall record might indicate (+0.3), as they net 75.3 ppg and allow 75 ppg. They may not be blowing by opponents on offense, but by shooting 48.5 percent from the floor they are one of the 20 most efficient shooting teams in the nation. Roberto Nelson (20.5 ppg, 3.6 apg) has improved as a passer this season, but his biggest strength is in scoring, an area in which he led the Pac-12. Devon Collier (13.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Angus Brandt (12.5 ppg) can be counted on to hit some shots as well, while Eric Moreland (8.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg) is an enforcer down low.
Radford enjoyed a strong season playing in the Big South. The Beavers may not have as many wins as the Highlanders, but by cutting their teeth in the Pac-12 all year, earning wins over NCAA Tournament teams like UCLA and Arizona State along the way, they have a clear advantage in this contest.
Game Date and Time