Beavers aiming for Pac-12 separation.
CORVALLIS - And then there was one.
Three games into the inaugural Pac-12 men's basketball season, only Colorado remains undefeated with a 2-0 record, while USC is the lone winless team at 0-3.
Everybody else, which includes 10 schools, are separated by a single game or less, which is why Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson didn't push the panic button when the Beavers opened conference play with an 0-2 road trip to the Washington schools.
"It's wide open," Robinson said. "This league is going to be a tough league, so we have to be focused on taking care of our business. If we can do that, and then get lucky, you never know."
OSU (11-4 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) certainly did that on Thursday by shooting a season-high 63.3 percent, mixing up its defenses, and finally, turning back a late rally by preseason favorite California to notch a 92-85 win at Gill Coliseum.
"Good teams don't go away, you have to put them away," Robinson said. "Making those types of winning plays, and winning the game is important, because once you do it, you know you can do it."
The Beavers jump back into the fray today with a 7 p.m. game at Gill Coliseum against Stanford (12-3, 2-1), which is coming off a 78-67 loss at Oregon.
It's too early to draw any conclusions, but so far, Pac-12 teams are 14-2 at home against their conference foes.
Robinson, who never misses an opportunity to laud the hometown support, was effusive in his praise for the 5,132 fans who showed up on Thursday.
"That crowd, especially the students, when they get going, they really help us," he said. "Our guys feel it, and the other team feels it. We want to make Gill a hard place to play at again, and I think we're moving in the right direction."
Stanford and Cal are the only Pac-12 teams receiving any mention in the national polls.
Before Thursday's loss against the Ducks, the Cardinal's rsum featured a six-point loss to top-ranked Syracuse on a neutral court, and a controversial defeat at home to Butler.
They have a balanced scoring attack, a league-leading plus-7.4 rebounding margin, and a sticky defense that is holding opponents to 57.9 points per game, the second-best mark in the Pac-12.
Josh Owens, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound senior, tops the Cardinal at 12.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and shoots nearly 60 percent from the floor.
Aaron Bright, a 5-11 sophomore guard, averages 12.1 points and 3.1 assists, and 6-1 freshman guard Chasson Randle has been a key addition at 11.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per contest.
The Ducks managed to hold their own on the boards with Stanford, and did a nice job with their perimeter defense, holding Bright and Randle to a combined 8-of-26 from the floor.
"Owens has been having a great year," Robinson said. "We're going to have to do something to curtail his production. But I'm optimistic.
"I like the way we're playing and they have to stop us, just like we have to stop them."
The up-tempo Beavers continue to lead the Pac-12 in several categories - scoring (83.3), field-goal percentage (.502), assists (17.93), steals (10.0) and turnover margin (plus four). They are second in three-pointers made with 105.
Robinson said it was "likely" that 6-10 freshman Eric Moreland would get his second start of the season in place of 6-7 sophomore Devon Collier against the Cardinal.
Moreland's length was a key to the success of OSU's 1-3-1 zone defense against Cal, and he also helped slow down 6-6 sophomore guard Allen Crabbe in man-to-man situations.
Crabbe was limited to seven points in the first half, and didn't score his first field goal of the second half until the Beavers had built a 77-61 lead with 6:48 left.
"That was a game-time decision," said Robinson of inserting Moreland into the starting lineup.
"Will that take place (today)? It's likely, but I want to reserve the right to change my mind ... one thing about this team, they like winning, and they don't care who is in the game."