The offensive firepower that Oregon State believed it had before the season started has finally arrived in recent weeks.
Better late than never, with a chance to make some noise in the postseason just around the corner.
The Beavers (15-15) have had their five highest scoring conference games in the last eight contests entering Wednesday’s first-round matchup with Washington at the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas.
Coach Wayne Tinkle has said the factor in his team’s inability to close out so many tight games this season was simply not making shots.
The Beavers have turned the corner with that as they’ve shot better than 50 percent from the field five times in the last eight games, including the final three games of the conference schedule against Arizona State (52.8), Washington (56.9) and Washington State (54.0).
Oregon State is averaging 78.9 points in their last eight Pac-12 games compared to 67.8 in the first 10. The Beavers finished the regular season second in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage at 47.5 and third in conference games at 47.2.
Tinkle says his team is more efficient, executing better, seeing assist totals rise and playing better in transition.
“It’s all the things we’ve been working on,” he said. “And we always talk about playing our best basketball when the time is right, and here we are. We’ve been playing our best ball of late and hope to keep it going this week.”
In the last eight games, five of the nine players in the Beavers’ regular rotation have had season-high point totals.
Notably, Alfred Hollins had 24 points at UCLA. He also had 19 at home against Washington State. Fellow freshman Ethan Thompson had 23 in last Saturday’s win at Washington State, three games after scoring 20 against Arizona.
“I feel like a lot of people have been stepping up and scoring,” said sophomore forward Tres Tinkle, who had 29 in the home win against Washington.
“Ethan has been playing great lately. Alfred, and when you have young guys like that who can score the ball it opens the floor up for me, Stephen (Thompson) and Drew (Eubanks). When you get scoring from different areas it makes the game easier, especially when you’ve got a playmaker like Ethan. He can pass, he can get to the hoop.”
Gligorije Rakocevic and Zach Reichle are also among those who have had season-high scoring totals in the last four weeks.
In addition, Eubanks has had four games with more than 15 points in the last eight games after doing that just once in the first 10 Pac-12 contests. The junior forward has continued to shoot at a high clip (63.5 percent in the last eight) while scoring four more points per game in that stretch than the opening 10.
“Dialing into the game plan,” Eubanks said of his team’s success. “Coaches do a good job of giving us material we can use and showing where we can attack teams.”
Looking to Wednesday’s game with Washington, the Beavers have had two of their best shooting games of the season against the Huskies.
OSU shot 40 of 72 (55.6 percent) in the Feb. 10 double-overtime home win. In a 79-77 loss last Thursday in Seattle, the Beavers were 29 of 51 (56.9) to tie their best shooting performance of the year.
Tres Tinkle, named a first-team all-conference selection earlier this week, was Oregon State’s high scorer in both games with a combined 51 points on 21 of 34 from the field.
“I think it was attention to detail. They were really focused in those games,” coach Tinkle said of his team. “I know (Washington's) coach (Mike Hopkins) has mentioned to several people that we attack their zone better than anybody. I don’t know what to accredit that to. Our guys’ attention to detail and their aggressiveness.”