Arizona will have to find a way to cope without its leading scorer if it hopes to continue its home dominance of Oregon State.
The 21st-ranked Wildcats will likely be without freshman phenom Jerryd Bayless on Thursday when they host the Beavers in the Pac-10 conference opener for both teams.
Bayless, who is averaging 18.5 points, sprained his right knee in practice on Friday and was forced to sit out Arizona’s 76-63 loss Saturday to No. 2 Memphis. There is no timetable for his return, and interim coach Kevin O’Neill said it was very doubtful he would play against Oregon State.
“It is frustrating. I want to be out there to help us out. I can’t be out there,” Bayless said Tuesday. “I am going to get treatment twice a day and try to get back as fast as I can. Right now it is day to day.”
The Wildcats (9-3) have won 25 straight in Tucson against Oregon State (6-6) and haven’t lost at home to the Beavers since 1983 - the year before Lute Olsen arrived at Arizona. Olsen is still the coach, but is taking a leave of absence this season for personal reasons.
Still, the Wildcats could have a tough time without Bayless, a Parade All-American out of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix who has scored in double figures in 10 of his first 11 games.
“He has been huge,” O’Neill said. “Jerryd has played really good basketball, for a true freshman to play the way he has through our non conference schedule, which is ranked highly nationally, I have been impressed.”
Sophomore Nic Wise filled in at point guard against the Tigers and played all 40 minutes in his first career start. He scored 12 points, matching the career high he set in Arizona’s previous game, a 74-58 win over San Diego State on Dec. 22.
“I have to get more in condition, being the only point guard left I can’t come out of the games,” Wise said. “Even if I do get tired I have to fight through it.”
The Wildcats were also without starting forward Bret Brielmaier, who separated his shoulder against San Diego State. O’Neill said that Brielmaier, who is averaging 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds, could play against the Beavers.
Against the Tigers, though, the Wildcats were missing two regular starters in the same game for the first time in eight years. Chase Budinger, who ranks second on the team with 16.0 points per game, had 20, but the Wildcats saw their six-game winning streak snapped.
The loss was Arizona’s first since a 76-72 overtime defeat at then-No. 4 Kansas on Nov. 25.
“It hurts,” guard Jawann McClellan said. “We had a chance, we just let it get away.”
The Beavers suffered their second consecutive loss Sunday, falling 60-59 loss to Montana State. C.J. Giles and Marcel Jones led Oregon State with 13 points apiece.
Giles, a junior transfer from Kansas, was playing in his fifth game and starting his second after sitting out the start of the season because of NCAA transfer rules.
Sophomore swingman Seth Tarver leads Oregon State with 14.5 points per game, but managed only seven Sunday, the first time this season he failed to reach double figures.