Corvallis, OR – The Oregon State Beavers, playing much better than anticipated, took on their toughest home non-conference opponent today as the Mississippi State Bulldogs came to town. Both teams took a 5-2 record into the game. The Beaver losses were to Auburn and Oklahoma State in Las Vegas while the Bulldogs have dropped their last two games to TCU and Tulane.
Oregon State played solid throughout the game and withstood a late Bulldog rush to close out an impressive 59-49 win. 6’7 Jarmal Reid came off the bench to lead the Beavers with 13 points. Gary Payton II also scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. The Bulldogs (5-3) were sloppy with the ball (17 turnovers) and lost the rebounding battle. 6’5 Fred Thomas led the visitors with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Oregon State (6-2) came out strong taking an early 18-4 lead led by seven quick points from 6’5 Langston Morris-Walker (10 1st half points). Thomas hit two three-pointers for the Bulldogs to cut the lead to 21-16 at the 6:40 mark. The Bulldogs later cut the lead to two (23-21) but the Beavers ended the half on a three-pointer by Morris-Walker to give them a 30-23 lead at the break. The difference in the stat sheet at the half was that the Bulldogs committed six more turnovers than Oregon State and the Beavers had a +8 advantage on FTA.
Payton II got hot early in the second half, scoring nine points as the Beavers lead grew to 15 (41-26) at the 14:00 mark. Mississippi State cut the lead to four points (51-47, 4:23) on an inside basket by Craig Sword. Malcolm Duvivier followed with a key three-pointer to extend the lead to seven. Oregon State dominated the boards in the second half out-rebounding the Bulldogs by six and ended the game with a +6 advantage on the offensive boards.
Oregon State’s Payton II is a much better player than we thought. The 6’3″ guard is leading the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) but more impressively also in rebounding (9.6 rpg). That makes him the top rebounding guard in the nation. Payton II is strong and plays excellent defense (1.3 bpg, 2.0 spg). He plays within a team concept and knows when to be more aggressive on offense. His shot looks ugly at times (he shot a air ball on a 12-footer from the side in this game, but also made a nice looking three from the wing early in the second half, followed by a pull-up jumper) but his numbers for the season are good (56.9 FG percent, 7-of-15 on three’s and 81 percent on FT’s.).
His first points today didn’t come until three minutes were left in the first half when he came up with a steal and dunk. His 11-point second half was a key to the Beaver win. Payton II finished the game with 13 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 35 minutes of action. He shot 4-of-6 on two-point attempts, making two nice mid-range jumpers. He was only 1-of-5 from deep, which is an area of the game he’ll need to improve on.
Oregon State will have home games this week against Grambling and DePaul. Mississippi State heads home to play Arkansas State on Wednesday.
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