Oregon State draws a tough opponent as it hopes to chart a new path following its second-worst Pac-12 season ever when Washington comes to Corvallis, Ore., for the league opener Thursday night.
The Huskies (6-1) are coming off a championship run in the Wooden Legacy tournament at Anaheim, Calif., while the Beavers (3-4) were winless in three games in the Phil Knight Legacy at Portland, Ore.
Oregon State went 1-19 in Pac-12 regular-season play last season, with its lone win coming at home in December against Utah. That was one more win than the 2008 edition enjoyed in an 18-game Pac-10 season.
The Beavers feature an almost entirely new look this season, led by freshman guard Jordan Pope, who had a season-best 23 points in Sunday's 83-71 loss to Portland State in the team's final game at the Phil Knight event.
While Oregon State lost all three of its games at Portland, the first was encouraging. Pope had 14 points and Dexter Akanno had 12 as the Beavers pushed powerful Duke to the limit before falling short 54-51.
Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle believes the type of defense his team threw at the Blue Devils could be a difference-maker moving forward.
"This team's hungry," Tinkle said after the Duke game. "We defended our tails off, man. This is one of the better defensive efforts I've seen from one of my teams in a while. We thought defense could be a strength of this team."
The Beavers will encounter another strong defensive team in Washington, which held Fresno State and Saint Mary's to an average of 60.5 points in the four-team Wooden event, claiming the title by outlasting the Gaels 68-64 in a game that went into overtime.
The Huskies defeated Seattle 77-66 on Monday for a third consecutive win. Washington went 11-9 in conference play last season, including 82-72 and 78-67 wins over Oregon State.
Fresno State transfer Braxton Meah put his name on Pac-12 scouting reports with 18 points and seven rebounds in the win over Seattle.
"Braxton was great out there - some crazy numbers," teammate Cole Bajema said. "He's been playing well all season ... working hard in practice, and it's paying off in games."
--Field Level Media