Tomorrow, the UCLA Bruins will look to accomplish something in Murry Bartow’s first Pac-12 road trip which they only accomplished three times during the five-plus years that Steve Alford was in charge. The Bruins will look to complete a Pac-12 road sweep.
Obviously, UCLA almost wasn’t in this position to begin with before Thursday night’s improbable comeback. But they managed to pull that comeback off and, now, they have a shot to pull off the sweep.
Make no mistake. It isn’t going to be easy. That’s because the Oregon State Beavers look to be better than they have recently. Wayne Tinkle is still the Beavers’ head coach. So far this season, the Beavs have beaten in-state rival Oregon as well as Southern Cal in overtime on Thursday night.
Redshirt junior forward Tres Tinkle leads Oregon State in scoring with an average of 20.5 points per game and in rebounds with an average of 8.6 per game. He also leads the Beavers in assists with an average of 4.2 per game. But Tinkle missed Thursday’s game against Southern Cal with an injured left ankle. If he can’t go, look for Kylor Kelley to start in his place, even if Kelley’s offensive production is no where near Tinkle’s.
The Thompson brothers are the other Beavers averaging in double figures in scoring. Senior guard Stephen Thompson Jr. is second on the team in scoring with an average of 15.6 points per game and his younger brother Ethan Thompson, who is a sophomore guard, is third with an average of 12.4 points per game. The Beavers’ third guard is sophomore Zach Reichle and their fifth starter is sophomore Alfred Hollins. Neither has produced much on a regular basis so far this season.
The key to beating the Beavers depends on whether or not Tinkle is able to play. If he is, he’s the guy the Bruins need to look out for down low. Hopefully, Moses Brown and the other UCLA bigs can contain him. The other guy to look out for is Stephen Thompson Jr. On Thursday night against the Trojans with Tinkle hurt, Thompson put up 34 points. He shot 11 of 19, 57.9%, from the field, compared to his season average of just 41.6%. He also hit 5 of 11 shots, 45.5% from behind the arc Thursday, which is also substantially better than his season average of just 31.1%.
If UCLA can hold Tinkle and/or Thompson Jr. in check while minimizing turnover, the Bruins should be able to complete the sweep.