Oregon State will need 'all five guys' to slow down Cade Cunningham


The Oregon State Beavers are one win away from making the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1982. 

Standing in their way, however, is arguably the best player in college basketball and the odds-on favorite to go first overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State. 

"He's such a talent," said head coach Wayne Tinkle. 

On the season, the Big 12 Player of the Year averaged 20.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game as a true freshman. Some of his scoring has been inconsistent, but that's largely because he's carrying the Cowboys on his back every night.  

"He can shoot it from distance, he's got good midrange, he can get to the rim and finish," added Tinkle. "Plus, he's got really, really good vision. He's a willing passer."

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While Cunningham can make his teammates better, the Beavers are going to want to make anyone other than the star freshman beat them. That strategy will include having all five men key in on Cunningham while giving the Cowboys different defensive looks.  

"We can't guard him with just one guy," said Tinkle. "We're going to have to put different guys on him. Maybe smaller, quicker guys at times. Maybe at times, guys with a little more length and then we'll have to guard him with multiple guys and give him different looks."


In Oregon State's win over Tennessee, the Beavers often came out of timeouts in a zone defense to confuse the Volunteers and slow down whatever play was designed during the commercial break. Expect the Beavers to try something similar on Sunday. 

Zach Reichle added that the team was going to dive into the scouting report Saturday evening on how to slow down the Cowboys offense. 

When Cunningham gets going, the Cowboys can defeat anyone in the country as they will have the best player on the floor in basically every matchup. Oklahoma State is one of two teams all season to defeat No. 1 seeded Baylor. In that game, Cunningham had 25 points, 8 rebounds and five assists. 

"He's such a talented player. It's going to take all five guys on the court paying attention to him to give ourselves a chance," concluded Tinkle.

Oregon State plays Oklahoma State on Sunday, March 22nd at 6:40 p.m. PT on TBS.