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Can Morris-Walker defensively spark Oregon State in Pac-12 tourney?

Craig Robinson

After starting in every Oregon State game since early January, Langston Morris-Walker had cemented his status as one of the Pac-12’s most improved players. The wing barely left the bench as a freshman, and it appeared this trend would continue through the Beavers’ non-conference slate, but the defensive boost Morris-Walker added to the lineup earned him playing time. However, Morris-Walker missed this past Saturday’s game while suspended for breaking an unspecified university rule -- it was later clarified that the sophomore was arrested and charged with driving under the influence -- but coach Craig Robinson will require a full roster if the tenth-seeded OSU is to shock the PAC-12 (as some, like John Gasaway, have highlighted as a possibility) and confirmed Morris-Walker will play in the conference tournament.

What is interesting about this season’s squad is the Beavers have finally discovered how to score the ball in Pac-12 play -- their 1.06 offensive rating is tied for most efficient under Robinson -- but the team has struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball. The Beavers don’t force turnovers, and since they also don’t keep opponents off the defensive glass particularly well, many of the team’s defensive possessions result in a made bucket. Morris-Walker provided some semblance of defensive fortitude -- the soph has shown skill as a harassing on-ball defender -- so with him back in the lineup, it will be interesting whether his spark will provide a defensive stabilization. This Beavers’ squad is offensive imposing (the team converts threes at a rapid rate), so if OSU can manage to hold teams long enough, the team might just be the Pac-12’s ultimate sleeper.

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