Published January 13, 2013
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State doesn't have the depth to be able to lose key players and still have success.
Beavers head coach Craig Robinson alluded to that Saturday night after his team's 80-70 home loss to No. 4 Arizona that dropped Oregon State to 10-6 overall and 0-3 in the Pac-12.
The Beavers felt the absence of sophomore forward Eric Moreland, who along with teammate Victor Robbins was suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons before Thursday's home loss to Arizona State.
Moreland is averaging 10.8 points and 11.7 rebounds this season. He has seven double-doubles this season, including a stretch of four straight to end nonconference play. Robbins has played sparingly in nine of the Beavers' 16 games.
"His presence in the interior is incredible," Oregon State guard Ahmad Starks said of Moreland, who has started all 14 games he's played. "With his length and his athleticism, he can guard guys on the interior. His shot blocking and his rebounding, of course."
Robinson said Robbins will be available to play Saturday at USC. The coach said he's still deciding on Moreland's status.
Solomon Hill had 16 points, including five 3-pointers for the visiting Wildcats. Mark Lyons added 16 points and freshman Grant Jerrett had six blocks, a season high for the team.
Arizona (15-1, 3-1 Pac-12) was coming off a 70-66 defeat Thursday night just down the road against Oregon. While the Wildcats had pulled off several close victories, their luck ran out against the Ducks.
"They were storming the court, that's hard to go through," Jerrett said. "You just have to let it go."
There was no nail-biting finish against the Beavers, who trailed by as many as 17 points in their third straight loss. Starks led Oregon State with 18 points.
"The focus is just not there," said Devon Collier, who had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Beavers.
The Wildcats pulled ahead 13-6 early on Jerrett's 3-pointer, but Oregon State did its best to keep up and pulled to within 17-16 on Starks' 3-pointer with 12:18 to go in the first half.
The Beavers pulled to within 24-23 on another 3 from Starks, but Hill answered with a 3-pointer for the Wildcats.
Lyons hit a layup that put Arizona up 32-27, but Langston Morris-Walker hit on a long jumper and Collier dunked on a fast break to keep Oregon State close.
Trailing 34-33, the Beavers had a chance to go ahead but Jarmal Reid missed a pair of free throws. The Wildcats finished out with a 9-2 run to lead 43-34 at the break.
Brandon Ashley's layup early in the second half pushed Arizona's lead to double digits, 47-37. Kevin Parrom's 3-pointer made it 60-45 with 12:22 left and Hill's 3 extended the lead to 67-50 midway through the half and the Wildcats cruised the rest of the way.
It was somewhat unusual for the Wildcats to win by such a margin.
The Wildcats defeated then-No. 5 Florida 65-64 back in mid-December on Lyons' heavily contested layup with 7 seconds left. Arizona got another one-point win over a ranked opponent when they beat San Diego State 68-67 at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
To start the new year, a banked-in 3-pointer by Colorado's Sabatino Chen at the end of regulation was waved off by the officials after a replay and the Wildcats went on to beat the Buffaloes in overtime. Then Arizona lucked out when what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer by Utah bounced off the rim for a 60-57 Wildcats win.
"One of the things we didn't do in the last three games was defend," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "So it was good to see that in this one."