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Name aside, Gary Payton II will be an important player for Oregon State

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After finishing last season with a 16-16 record, Oregon State lost a lot of production with shooting guard Roberto Nelson leading the way. Nelson scored 20.7 points per game last season, so his contributions would have been tough enough for new head coach Wayne Tinkle to account for. But add in the loss of forwards Angus Brandt, Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, and promising guard Hallice Cooke’s decision to transfer, and the Beavers lost their top five scorers from the 2013-14 campaign.

Those departures mean that the four players joining the program won’t lack for opportunities to earn minutes next season, and one of those newcomers is a player who’s surely familiar with the history of Oregon State basketball.

Gary Payton II arrives in Corvallis after spending two seasons at Salt Lake CC in Utah, where he averaged 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season according to Jesse Sowa of the Corvallis Gazette-Times. And while the shared name will result in some Oregon State fans thinking back to the days when his father was running the point, both father and son are hoping that fans will resist the temptation to compare the two according to Sowa.

“He’s a great defender and he needs his own identity,” the elder Payton said while meeting with the media before attending a Beavers home game in January. “When he comes here, I don’t want people to compare him to me. Please don’t. He’s not going to be Gary Payton Sr.”

However, the elder Gary added, his son earned his scholarship on his athletic talent and not his name.

“They’re going to pop up. I’ll address them when they come, but I know it’s going to come,” the younger Payton said of the comparisons in a Thursday interview at Gill Coliseum. “The mitten, it kind of doesn’t fit.”

With the personnel losses mentioned above and Challe Barton deciding to try his hand at professional basketball overseas, Payton II is essentially Oregon State’s lone point guard on the projected roster for next season. Malcolm Duvivier and Langston Morris-Walker were both members of the rotation last season but neither would be considered a point guard and the same goes for incoming freshman Chai Baker.

The lack of depth at the point guard position makes Payton a very important figure for the Beavers as they begin a new era, with Wayne Tinkle looking to build Oregon State into a program capable of reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990.

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: