nelson

Oregon State begins their season with a home loss to Coppin State

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In case there was any question as to how much Oregon State would miss the suspended front court tandem of Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, we found out on Sunday night.

Collier and Moreland combined to average 22.0 points and 16.6 points per game last season, and without those two the Beavers struggled mightily on offense in their 78-73 loss to Coppin State. Senior Roberto Nelson established a new career high with 36 points on 12-for-26 shooting, but the rest of the team combined to shoot just 33.3% (11-for-33) from the field.

Angus Brandt, making his return to the court after missing most of last season with a torn ACL, scored 13 points and Victor Robbins added 11, but the majority of the scoring from Oregon State players other than Nelson came in the latter stages of the contest. Coppin State certainly deserves credit for the result, with point guard Taariq Cephas dishing out eight assists and Sterling Smith (21 points) and Arnold Fripp (17 points, nine rebounds) leading the way offensively.

And despite Oregon State’s status, this is an important victory for Fang Mitchell’s program when you consider the fact that the Eagles entered Sunday 0-16 all-time against Pac-12 opponents. And there’s also the matter of how poorly the MEAC as a whole has performed against “power conference” programs over the last two seasons.

The good news for Oregon State is that Collier will return from his suspension on Wednesday night when the Beavers host Portland, but this result does nothing for head coach Craig Robinson in a pivotal season for the program.

Oregon State was picked by the coaches to finish 10th in the Pac-12 this season, so the struggles are somewhat predictable. But these are the games a program looking to establish itself cannot afford to lose. In a conference that’s expected to be better this season (and also doesn’t lack for “hot seat” candidates), Oregon State needs all the wins they can get before league play starts in January.

And in order to turn things around, it’s quite obvious that they need some players to step up offensively to help Nelson with the heavy lifting.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: