Oregon State headed into last night’s Pac-12 finale with UCLA not necessarily needing but kinda-sorta-needing to get a win to keep their fringe NCAA tournament candidacy alive. They did so in the most emphatic way.
UCLA had a chance to tie it up at the end of the second half, but Oregon State got the steal and Gary Payton II dispatched the Bruins with this thump of an exclamation point.
Joe Lunardi was on during the Cal-Arizona State broadcast and said that the Beavers were just inside the bubble, and probably had the play-in game to look forward to. If they make some noise in the Pac-12 tournament, they might get all the way in, but if they crash out in the first round against Arizona state (who aren’t great but are still dangerous), they might end up NIT bound. Thankfully, GP2 is one of the better seniors in the conference.
Payton, just like his dad, is a master thief. He’s in the top ten in the nation in steals per game as well as box plus-minus, and his 52 percent shooting on two-pointers is pretty impressive for a 6-foot-3 guard. GP2 should at least get a shot at an NBA roster. He’ll also leave the Beavers in good hands, as they have two exciting freshmen (Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr.) who are waiting to inherit the team from Payton.
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