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Beavers chase the elusive consistency

Oregon State played one of its best halves of the season after halftime Sunday to knock off then-No. 21 USC.

Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said afterward that moving forward the challenge was maintaining a consistent effort.

Adding five freshmen into OSU’s regular rotation brought the expected highs and lows, making consistency hard to come by.

“Now after the amount of games we have under our belt we need to see more focus and more emphasis on those things day in and day out,” Tinkle said Tuesday as his team prepared for this week’s two-game Pac-12 men's basketball road trip to the Arizona schools.

“Those things” include keeping opponents from shooting high percentages, avoiding offensive struggles by sharing the ball, free-throw shooting and rebounding.

Consistency is a major focus for the Beavers (12-6, 3-4) as they try to build on some momentum gathered after ditching a three-game losing streak against the Trojans.

They’ll head to the road — with games at Arizona State (11-9, 1-6) at 5:30 p.m. today and No. 18 Arizona (16-4, 4-3) at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday — looking for more of the same.

Oregon State is 7-0 this season (and 2-0 in conference) when holding opponents under 40-percent shooting. Offensively, OSU has had its two best shooting games in Pac-12 play at home (versus Stanford and USC) and two of its three worst on the road, at Colorado and Utah.

The Beavers are 3-0 in conference games in which they were tied or beat their opponents in rebounding and have lost all four when they didn’t. They’ve been outrebounded by a combined 45 in their four Pac-12 defeats.

For the players, consistency comes with preparation.

“When we don’t come out to play you can tell just by the way the game goes,” said junior guard Malcolm Duvivier. “When we don’t come out to practice it just leads to a bad game. Everything starts from where we first start preparing. From practice to film, we have to have that ultimate focus.”

Freshman forward Tres Tinkle said it might be cliché, but practice makes perfect.

“If you want to play your best you’ve got to bring it every single day in practice and compete,” he said.

Struggles at the foul line have hurt the Beavers’ chances in at least one conference game.

OSU had shot 60 percent or less at the line in three straight losses before making 18 of 21 (85.7 percent) in the USC win. The Beavers are 3-0 in Pac-12 games in which they’ve shot better than 60 percent and 0-4 in which they didn’t.

OSU has managed to curb a turnover problem that plagued the Beavers in several nonconference games. OSU has had fewer turnovers than its opponent in all seven conference games. The Beavers have had no more than 12 after surpassing that number six times in November and December.

Oregon State has yet to have what coach Tinkle would consider a consistent and focused effort in consecutive conference games. So far, the light switch has rotated between on and off every game. Oregon on, Stanford off, California on, Colorado off, and so on.

“When they know that we’re dialed in, coaches can focus more on coaching us instead of trying to get us going,” senior forward Olaf Schaftenaar said. “It makes it a lot easier for them to just coach basketball instead of coaching effort and attitude. When we play with the right mindset it’s a lot easier for all of us.”