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No. 17 Arizona eyes bounce-back win vs. Oregon State

Sports Xchange - Thursday 11th January, 2018

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona hopes to regroup Thursday night when it faces surging Oregon State in McKale Center.

Typically, it has long been the other way around.

But Arizona (12-4, 2-1 Pac-12), coming off a loss to Colorado on Saturday, is still trying to find an identity midway through the season after its fourth loss dropped the Wildcats to No. 17 in the polls.

"We know Tucson is going to be crazy coming off that loss," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. "It'll be interesting to see how our guys respond."

History has not been kind. The Beavers (10-5, 2-1) have won just once in Tucson since 1983 and that was in 2010, Arizona coach Sean Miller's first season.

Still, Oregon State is likely to get to McKale Center with a lot of confidence after playing well recently, winning two of three and seemingly finding its way with the help of a zone defense.

"We prefer going in there with a win rather than a loss," Tinkle said. "It can give us a confidence, for sure, but we (still) need to learn from this group how we can handle success."

Arizona does, too, in essence after winning nine consecutive games before losing to Colorado.

The Wildcats started the season No. 2 in the polls only to fall out after its Thanksgiving trip to the Bahamas. It inched back into the rankings to made it to No. 14 before last week's setback.

Miller emphasized that this is a big week (he said it three times) even "though the world is not caving in around us."

Still, any loss for Arizona basketball is a big deal no matter the circumstances. Since the loss on Saturday, Miller has spent some of his time attempting to motivate his players using some reverse psychology, wondering out loud if he can get to his players.

Miller said he needs to see more emotion and grit from his team.

"It has to come from within, too," he said.

He also said Arizona is still "a work in progress."

"I think we will eventually be the team we all think we can be," Miller said. "More than anything, we are trying to reach our potential. But how can you really reach your potential when you don't have consistent effort for 40 minutes?"

It especially won't work against Oregon State, which Miller called "a much-improved team from last year (and) from the beginning of the year to now."

He added that Oregon State seems to be "hitting its stride."

In Oregon State's last three games, it has beaten Colorado and Oregon while recently having success with a matchup zone defense. Entering Thursday's game, the Beavers lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense (68.6) and are second in steals and third in field goal percentage defense (41.5).

"When we have it rolling, it's a tough thing to try to score on," Oregon State forward Tres Tinkle said, according to the Oregonian. "It's also very hard to understand if you're new to it."

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