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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 7, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: OSU 9-8, Utah 9-7. Away Record: OSU 2-7, Utah 2-10. Neutral Record: OSU 2-1, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: OSU 3-13, Utah 3-13. Series Record: Utah leads, 12-10.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams tied for 10th place in the Pac-12 Conference standings get together on Thursday night, as the Utah Runnin' Utes host the Oregon State Beavers at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
Not only are both programs a mere 3-13 in league play, they are each suffering through a four-game slide at the moment as well.
Oregon State, which began the 2012-13 campaign with nine wins in 11 outings, has won a total of just three times during the 2013 calendar year. Last week, the Beavers were taken out by in-state rival Oregon on the road, 85-75, which means the squad is now only 1-6 in true conference road dates.
As for the Runnin' Utes, their latest setback came on Sunday when they were pounded by Stanford at Maples Pavilion, 84-66. Losers of six of its last seven games overall, Utah has dropped each of the last three by double figures.
Utah leads the all-time series by a count of 12-10, winning all but one of the 10 contests played in Salt Lake City over the years. However, the Beavers have taken three straight matchups, including an 82-64 thumping in the first meeting of the season last month in Corvallis.
Leading by seven points at the break and nine early in the second half, the Beavers appeared to be poised for a potential upset win against Oregon, but that all changed when the Ducks sank 51.9 percent from the floor and 21-of-25 at the free-throw line over the final 20 minutes of action. Nevertheless, Roberto Nelson still gave the visitors hope as he tallied a game-high 31 points on 11-of-19 from the floor, followed by Devon Collier with 14 points, but the squad simply could not overcome 18 turnovers.
Averaging 19.4 ppg in conference play, Nelson has logged a huge portion of his points from those games at the free-throw line (83-of-107), having made more shots than any one of his teammates has yet to attempt. Joe Burton, who along with Nelson, is the only one to have started every conference bout, checks in with 11.7 ppg, adding 62 assists, 21 steals and 6.8 rpg, but his mere 62.5 percent accuracy at the charity stripe has not helped keep him on the floor.
Three Utah starters scored in double figures at Stanford last weekend, and the other two finished with a combined 15 points which means the reserves for the Runnin' Utes accounted for a mere eight points, compared to 29 for the Cardinal backups. Jarred DuBois tallied 22 points for the visitors, Jordan Loveridge tacked on 11 and Jason Washburn 10 more, but it wasn't nearly enough to keep up with Stanford.
Utah has not been much of an offensive force this season, putting up just 63.6 ppg overall, but when it comes to Pac-12 opponents that number drops even further down to only 59.2 ppg, while the points allowed by the squad jumps to 67.4 ppg. Washburn, the only one to have started all 16 of those league dates, leads the way with 13.0 ppg and 7.9 rpg and is also responsible for 20 of their 41 blocked shots, but the squad is being beaten on the glass by more than five per outing.
The Beavers have been brutal on the road and have not had a lot of success against Utah in SLC over the years, but the times are changing for OSU and getting a leg up on the Runnin' Utes would be a good idea this late in the campaign.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon State 72, Utah 61
03/07 10:31:10 ET