Conference Questions

Can Oregon State recover its season?

The Beavers probably can’t vie for the Pac-12 title, not after starting conference play by losing five of their first six games. But Craig Robinson’s squad, gimmicky as its 1-3-1 defense is, should soon push its way back into the top six.

Oregon State is now sitting at 4-5, its Sunday win at Oregon snapping a 13-game losing streak in road conference games. The 1-3-1 forced the Ducks into a season-high 23 turnovers, a stat that coach Dana Altman harped on as a prime cause of the 76-71 loss. On the forested floor of Matthew Knight Arena, OSU hounded its in-state rivals and earned its first Civil War victory since a series sweep in 2009-10.

But the most encouraging win in recent program history also highlights just how inconsistent this squad can be. The Beavers came back from a 10-point deficit in Eugene, Ore., shooting 57.1 percent in the second half to balance out a 27.6 percent showing in the first. Finishing at 42 percent, it was also only their second sub-45 percent win of the season.

Their saving grace came on the other end of the court, a rarity for one of the conference’s most porous defenses. Oregon shot 38.3 percent from the field; only two Pac-12 teams had shot worse than 50 percent against Oregon State, and none below 40.

Oregon State has long been a team that tries to outrun opponents; if this indeed is a sign of balance, the Beavers could see an upswing. An easy road trip to Utah and Colorado this weekend should help too.

— Jack Wang

Can Oregon win the Pac-12?

The Ducks were tied for first in the conference one week ago. Now, halfway through Pac-12 play, Dana Altman’s club stands just a game behind conference co-leaders Cal and Washington. But will Oregon make a run at a title? Not likely.

For starters, the Ducks (15-6, 6-3) are coming off a home loss to rival Oregon State. They get to play Utah twice, but also have difficult matchups with Washington and Colorado and a rematch with the Beavers in Corvallis. Moreover, Oregon still must travel to the Bay Area in the Pac-12’s most difficult road trip. A win that weekend would be hard to come by.

The main reason Oregon won’t win the conference is because the squad overachieved in the first half — and will likely come back down to earth. The Ducks shot lights out in their upset over the Cardinal and caught Arizona on an off night. Senior guard Garrett Sim’s 3-point percentage stands at .456, but will it fall back closer to last year’s rate, more than 100 percentage points lower?

There is no doubt Oregon is on the rise, but make no mistake: The Ducks will be playing in the NIT after finishing no better than fourth in the Pac-12.

— Jonathan Kuperberg