Wayne Tinkle continues to reference last year’s struggles — both directly and indirectly — in regards to his team’s play this season.

The Oregon State men’s basketball coach points to last year’s disappointment and a 5-27 record as a hurdle that this year’s team has attempted to overcome.

The current roster includes nine players who were on last year’s team.

“There’s a little bit of apprehension out there, I think a little bit of fear of failure, and the one way to rid ourselves of that is to just pin your ears back and give it everything you’ve got,” Tinkle said following last Saturday’s 63-60 win against Saint Louis in Portland. “And then things will fall in your favor and we’ll get to develop that confidence and learn how to win again. We’ve done that here, and if we can continue to do it, then when it gets to conference there’s no doubt in my mind that we can’t do it there as well.”

Kone plays valuable minutes

Sophomore forward Ben Kone played arguably his most productive time in an OSU uniform in Saturday’s win. He had two points and four rebounds in seven minutes.

Kone entered the game for the first time midway through the second half at a time the Beavers were struggling to get boards.

Saint Louis had a 15-8 rebounding edge after halftime — including nine on the offensive end — before Kone came in with 8:34 to go. OSU held a 7-4 margin with Kone in the game.

It was just Kone’s second game of the season as he recovers from a knee injury. He missed the first nine games last year with an injury to the same knee.

“We don’t want to put him in a position to fail,” Tinkle said, noting that Kone is still working to learn concepts on both ends of the court. “But you guys saw the start of that second half — we couldn’t get a rebound to save our lives. We know that’s one thing he can do when he’s locked in and focused. He did that for us. Ben made two big free throws when it seems like we couldn’t hit a bunch with either hand at the free-throw stripe and gave us some good defensive stands as well.”

His two foul shots came just seconds after he entered the game and almost immediately following his first rebound. He later had three straight rebounds in the contest.

Kone had five or six rebounds on four different occasions last season, though he played no fewer than 15 minutes in those games.

“I was really proud of him, and now it’s on him just to continue to stay focused and get familiar and comfortable with our stuff so that he’s another option and that will help with our depth,” Tinkle said.

Slow starts

Oregon State opened this season with five straight games where the Beavers’ point margin was better in the first half than the second.

During its six-game winning streak, OSU has played better in the second half in five of those contests. The Beavers are plus-nine points in the first half of those six games and plus-57 in the second half.

“It seems like it’s a tale of two halves for us that we’ve got to correct as we get closer to conference play,” Tinkle said. “And we’re going to continue to grind and stay on these guys because I know they’re capable. We’ve got to continue to work on the buy-in.”

Rakocevic injury

The status of Gligorije Rakocevic going forward isn’t good after Tinkle said the junior center came into the locker room after Saturday’s game on crutches.

Rakocevic had ice wrapped around his right calf late in the game. His availability for Thursday’s game is uncertain.

Six and counting

Oregon State last won six straight games in 2004-05 under coach Jay John, with four nonconference victories followed by a home sweep of UCLA and USC. The Beavers finished the season with a loss to Cal State Fullerton in the first round of the NIT.

The program last accomplished seven in a row in 1992-93, which included a 5-0 start in conference play. That team, coached by Jimmy Anderson, finished 13-14 overall and 9-9 in the Pac-10.

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