Oregon State hopes to take flight

Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham jumps awfully high and soars for a highlight-reel dunk.

Nothing new there.

But what is also generating buzz in Corvallis is that this Beavers team under coach Craig Robinson could be a legitimate contender in the Pac-12 if things go right.

Oregon State improved its record to 8-2 on Thursday night with a home victory over Howard that showed off the Beavers' athleticism, with Cunningham taking center stage with his midair acrobatics.

That record also happens to be tied with for second-best among Pac-12 teams, with one-loss Stanford tops in non-conference action thus far.

Yes, the Beavers still have much to prove during the Pac-12 season. And it wasn't a good sign that they are still prone to bad losses — falling by 14 at home to Idaho, for example.

But as much as Robinson wanted to downplay it at the time, Oregon State felt an emotional weight that night, playing shortly after learning of the death of Beavers football player Fred Thompson. Robinson later told reporters that the tragic event naturally took an emotional toll.

Oregon State will certainly be tested in the Pac-12 opener at Washington on Dec. 29, but for now it's basking in Thursday's highlight reel — Cunningham scoring on a reverse dunk off the alley-oop pass from big man Joe Burton.

From The Oregonian:

"When I saw the replay on the screen, I was kind of amazed, too,'' Cunningham said. "I didn't see that the dude was right there when I jumped.''


"I've never seen anybody who can catch the ball and then decide how to dunk it,'' Robinson said.