CORVALLIS — Before Oregon State’s 59-55 win over USC on Saturday, Wayne Tinkle challenged forward Jarmal Reid to be more aggressive. With sixth man Victor Robbins nearing the midway point of a 10-game suspension, the head coach realized, Reid needed to provide more of a spark off the bench.

So the junior hardly hesitated when he stepped onto the hardwood nearly eight minutes into the game. Reid slipped into passing lanes, forced one-on-one battles and attacked the rim whenever possible.

It wasn’t always pretty. For his first points of the day, Reid banged a 12-foot jumper in off the backboard. He then sandwiched his first career 3-pointer with two off-kilter layups.

Within four minutes, a player who was averaging seven points per game had netted nine. The mini-eruption pushed OSU’s lead to 11 points and forced USC head coach Andy Enfield to burn two timeouts.

“I just felt lucky tonight,” said Reid, who finished with 14 points, three assists, two steals and a block. “I got hot at the right time and I just got that feeling.”

The 6-foot-7, 231-pound Georgia native admitted that production dipped when he “got tired” late in the first half. Conditioning, though much improved from last year when he was 15 pounds heftier, remains an issue for Reid at times.

Still, he expects to log significant minutes each game. Tinkle doesn’t have much choice, after all. With Robbins set to miss another six games for violating athletic department policy, Reid is the only rotation regular available in reserve at this point.

Since Robbins’ suspension began, Reid is averaging 24.5 minutes per game. No other bench player has played more than nine in a single contest during that span. And Saturday, OSU outlasted the Trojans in a back-and-forth affair despite using just seven players. 

“We’re shorthanded,” Tinkle said. “But the group we’ve got, they’re working their butts off for us. If we play with intensity and focus at least most of the time, we can beat anyone on our schedule. And that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Here are some other Beavers notes and observations that didn’t make Saturday’s game recap:

>>> Thursday night, Tinkle bemoaned OSU’s 16 giveaways against UCLA. The Beavers aren’t a team that “turns it over that much,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we correct that moving forward.”

Objective achieved. OSU’s passing was much cleaner Saturday, and the Beavers tallied a season-low six turnovers.

>>> OSU held off a scrappy USC team despite an off outing from one of its leaders. Guard Langston Morris-Walker was a nonfactor much of his 32 minutes, finishing with a season-low two points on 1-for-4 shooting (0-for-3 from beyond the arc). He also had just one assist and one rebound.

>>> Tinkle said that his players “lead the huddles anymore.” He was referencing the way the team has unified amid adversity this season, arguably the chief reason behind the Beavers’ stunning run.

Saturday’s win put OSU a half game behind No. 12 Utah for second place in the Pac-12 and a game behind league-leading Arizona. The Beavers are 71st nationally in RPI and 64th in the KenPom.com rankings.

>>> Saturday’s announced crowd of 8,877 was the largest non-Civil War flock at Gill Coliseum since Feb. 18, 2006 (9,512). The Beavers are averaging 4,851 people at home this season, a substantial uptick from 2013-14’s 3,946-person average. 

“It’s neat [to have the fans back],” Tinkle said. “These guys deserve it. They are the reason for the fans’ excitement about Oregon State basketball. We enjoy it because we’ve worked hard to earn it. Hopefully the fans keep coming back and our guys keep paying them back by playing their tails off.”

— Connor Letourneau
[email protected]
503-221-8168; @ConnOregonian

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