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Wayne Tinkle felt ‘something special’ ahead of Beavers win over Tennessee originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
The Oregon State Beavers are in the Round of 32 for the first time since the 1982 NCAA Tournament.
While most of the country is shocked to see the Beavers advance, head coach Wayne Tinkle has had a feeling a run like this was on the horizon.
"This has been a special run, and it's lasted now for more than just the last week," explained Tinkle. "We knew we had something special happening, and they were very confident heading into this game."
Oregon State used a variety of defenses, zone and man-to-man, to clamp the fifth-seeded Tennesse Volunteers, holding the SEC contender to 33.3% shooting and 19.2% from the three-point line. The Beavers had been the best team in the Pac-12 at defending beyond the arc.
"We talked about in the scouting report taking away the elbows and the blocks by having a presence there off the ball so that they couldn't get their drives to the rim," said Tinkle. "They're so athletic. Then we had to get to their shooters with high hands in man and zone."
While the Beavers did allow some open threes, they came at the expense of defending the rim and forcing the Vols to beat them from outside. Tennessee failed to do so.
Tinkle credited a defensive drill named the change drill that Oregon State runs in practice for the Beavers performance Friday.
"It's where we've got pressure on the ball. Everybody else is loaded into their gaps, man or zone."
Then on offense, Oregon State believed in one another to make the correct play and make the open shot, just as they believed in one another all season and during the Pac-12 Tournament.
"Our scouting report was they really dig hard in their help if you can get by the first wave. So we really worked hard on moving back behind any penetration, kicking the ball, sharing it," Tinkle explained.
"The 'one more' phrase, we've been yelling that a lot in practice the last couple of months, and the guys have bought into it. I mean, we have really come together as a team, and you saw it on display."
Oregon State doubled Tennessee's assist total, 20-10.
It also helped Oregon State shot a blitzing 47.6% from three-point range.
However, the results seen Friday have been being built all season. In December, Oregon State lost to the University of Portland at home, a team who went winless in the West Coast Conference. It's arguably the worst loss any major team had in the field of 68.
"We suffered from tough losses, but we never threw in the towel," said Tinkle, proudly. "We never doubted ourselves. We just do what we do. We just stay hungry and humble, and we keep working, and we peak at the right time. It shouldn't have been a surprise. We just grinding it out knowing that we would get to playing our best basketball when it matters most."
It took 40 days of the season before Oregon State had its top-seven players all available at practice. Now that rotation has the Beavers a win away from the Sweet 16.
"We're proud of the team," added Tinkle. "We're happy for Beaver Nation, and it's been a heck of a run, but we want to do our best to keep things going."
Oregon State will take on No. 4 seed Oklahoma State on Sunday, March 21st at Lucas Oil Stadium with the winner going to the Sweet 16.