Oregon State men's basketball team ready for Civil War rivalry

2011-01-18T23:15:00Z Oregon State men's basketball team ready for Civil War rivalryBy Kevin Hampton, Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times
January 18, 2011 11:15 pm  • 

Want to know how big a rivalry the Civil War is?

Just take a stroll around the Oregon State campus with a Beavers men's basketball player.

Beavers fans are not overly fond of Oregon and aren't shy about sharing their feelings with the players.

By the time a freshman from out of state steps on the court for his first Civil War, there's no mistaking where everyone stands in this rivalry.

"People come up to us all the time and tell us to beat the Ducks and how they hate the Ducks, so I think they get the picture," OSU senior forward Omari Johnson said. "But they might not know how intense the game is until they actually get in it."

Five Oregon State players will be getting their first taste of the Civil War on Saturday.

Three freshmen, Devon Collier, Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson, will see plenty of action.

It will be a crash course in high-intensity basketball.

"It's more trash-talking than in a regular game," Johnson said. "I thought they go after us a little more physically and kind of mentally because they try to say stuff that we can't say out here.

"They bump us more and you can throw the elbows in the back a little more than other games. Just physically and verbally, I feel it's more intense than other games."

Although UO has a new coach in Dana Altman, the Ducks have kept that physical approach.

They tried to match UCLA's size with a rough and tumble game on Saturday.

The Ducks lost 67-59 but held Bruins leading scorer Reeves Nelson without a point, prompting Nelson to accuse them of engaging in cheap shots.

To Johnson, it's just part of the Ducks' game.

"I wouldn't call them dirty," he said. "I wouldn't call anybody dirty. They're just playing harder than you if you get bumped around. They're a feisty little bunch."

It's a home game for the Beavers, who are coming off an 80-76 win over Southern California to snap a three-game losing streak.

Johnson said having the first UO game of the season at Gill Coliseum will help the Beavers.

"It's good because we play at home really well," he said. "It's such a big rivalry it's an advantage to have the first game at home with how young our team is. They'll get a taste of it but in a familiar setting rather than going into the lions' den or the Ducks' den really early."

The Beavers swept the Ducks last year and split in 2008-09.

OSU won 64-57 in Eugene after a record 51-point home loss to Seattle University four days earlier.

The Beavers took a 62-42 win in Gill later in the season.

Coach Craig Robinson said the sweep actually puts more pressure on the Beavers.

"Being fortunate enough to have won the two games last year just puts more pressure on us to play well and win again because our fans are beginning to think that this should be a regular thing," Robinson said.

Robinson said the Ducks no doubt think they should be winning the Civil War matchups regularly.

"So we have to make sure we are absolutely well prepared for this game," he said. "It doesn't matter where it's played, both teams are going to play the game hard and it's going to be hard-fought and it's not a gimme game at any point in time for either side no matter how good or bad the other teams are playing."

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