HOOPS: Beavs win thriller over 'Zona!

JARED CUNNINGHAM CELEBRATES

NOTHING WENT ACCORDING to script in Oregon State's thrilling 76-75 win over Arizona at Gill on Sunday night. The Beavs shot great from the free-throw line, the Wildcats didn't. Arizona shot a sizzling 56 percent from the floor, yet trailed most of the second half after the score was tied at halftime. How did the Beavs do it?

Oregon State limited Arizona's transition game, for starters. And they nabbed 11 steals.

And on the offensive end, OSU saw a trio of players step up big, all at different and key junctures.

Jared Cunningham late in the game had five of the more electrifying points you'll see in a college basketball game -- a thunderous tip-jam and a twisting, spinning bucket and foul that led to a three-point play.

The sophomore guard finished with 17 points.

Sophomore center Joe Burton was a force inside in the second half, knifing through traffic on his way to the bucket, pulling down boards and making a couple of prescient passes on back door cuts for good measure.

Burton had 16 points on the night.

Senior guard Calvin Haynes was clutch. He didn't have a great shooting night from the floor, he was only 4-11, but he was money from the free throw line and had three steals. In a game that saw an ungodly 43 personal fouls called, (many of them touch fouls in the second half that frustrated both teams), it came down to free throws and the Beavs, led by Haynes' 9-for-11 at the line, hit 75 percent while UA uncharacteristically shot just 54 percent.

Haynes scored 18 points.

IS THIS THE same team that during the non-conference slate lost games to Utah Valley, George Washington and Texas Southern -- at home?!

Clearly, they are not.

In sweeping the Arizona schools to open Pac-10 play, Oregon State found different ways to win -- whether it was on defense, offense, inside or outside the paint.

Burton in the last two games has looked like a game changer -- his size, strength and improved stamina are such that opponents are going to have a tough time stopping him.

And speaking of improvement, Cunningham looks like a star in the making. Beaver Nation saw flashes of his athleticism and potential his freshman year but he's taken a huge leap forward in his sophomore campaign if these last two games are any indication.

Oregon State has a challenge, and an opportunity, coming up next. They take on the Washington schools this week.

The UW was the consensus pick to win the conference and if Oregon State wants to really WSU was said by basketball wags following a 10-2 start to be in the top 3-4 of the Pac-10 -- but then stumbled out of the gate in losing their first two conference games.

Two games, two very different kinds of tests. And why not? The Beavs have thus far in Pac-10 play found different ways to win -- and maybe there's a few more out there..

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