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Beavers cut week into two road trips

CORVALLIS — Oregon State will essentially make two road trips this week when it plays at Colorado and Utah in a pair of Pac-12 men’s basketball games four days apart.

With academics as the top priority, the Beavers will fly home from Boulder after Wednesday night’s game at Colorado. The players will attend class Thursday and Friday before OSU travels to play Utah on Sunday evening.

“We talk about academics being the biggest part of this whole deal and if we don’t show that we mean that I think we’re sending mixed messages,” Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said.

The Beavers (11-3, 2-1) will be back home a few hours after Wednesday night’s game in Boulder.

Given the nature of the road trip and the distance between the two game sites (roughly 500 miles), Oregon State would be making three flights if it wasn't going home. Traveling home between games adds one flight and means two-plus days at home.

Oregon State’s staff made a joint decision to avoid being gone for six days and having the players miss four days of school.

The Beavers will possibly not practice Thursday after getting home, Tinkle said. They’ll practice Friday at home and will decide whether they’ll practice Saturday at home or after they fly to Salt Lake City that day.

“I don’t think it should be a problem. We’ve got to get back to class. That’s what coach wants,” senior guard Gary Payton II said of the travel. “I love my bed so it’s great to sleep in my bed after a road game. It is what it is, so you’ve just got to get back out there and handle business.”

Oregon State is one of five Pac-12 men’s basketball teams with a Wednesday-Sunday week on the road this season.

Stanford had games on Wednesday and Sunday in the state of Oregon last week and went home between contests. California has that schedule next week when it goes to Utah and Colorado, as do Washington and Washington State when they travel to the Oregon schools in late February.

Ten times in Pac-12 play (including Oregon State twice) teams have a Wednesday-Sunday home schedule.

“I’m not sure how we look at it right now,” Tinkle said of the week. “It’s tough playing, then we travel then travel again. We’ll put a positive spin on it in preparation for Sunday for sure.”

Left up to him, Payton said he would prefer coming home and going to class in order to keep up on his work. Professors are readily available for questions if you’re in class, he added.

Senior forward Olaf Schaftenaar doesn’t have class Thursday or Friday, but would still rather be doing schoolwork at home than in a hotel room.

Practicing and sleeping at home and keeping to a daily routine is also a plus.

“It would be a very, very long road trip if we stayed over,” Schaftenaar said. “It would be a lot of hanging around the hotel. Definitely better to be home and get some good practices in and then get ready to leave again.”