HOUSTON (AP) — Oregon State is off to its best start in 35 years and has its depth to thank for it.
Ethan Thompson and Kylor Kelley each scored 23 points and Oregon State beat Texas-San Antonio 88-78 on Wednesday night for its seventh straight win.
Thompson shot 8 of 11 from the field, and Kelley was 7 of 8 as Oregon State (9-1) shot 56% overall and made 25 of 39 free throws.
“We’ve always talked about the strength of this team is our depth,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “No one person carries us. ... It’s nice that there’s always other guys there when some guys aren’t on their best.”
Tres Tinkle finished with 11 points, and Sean Miller-Moore had 10 for Oregon State.
“We knew their focus was going to be to try to take Tres and Ethan out of the game,” Wayne Tinkle said. “We challenged our other guys to step up. Kylor really did, and then Ethan took over a couple times each half for us. That’s what veteran leaders do, and these guys did a good job.”
The Beavers’ 9-1 start is their best since the 1984-85 season when they started 15-1. Their seventh straight win was a first since doing so in 1992-93.
“The record shows that we are able to close out some games even if we aren’t playing at our best for the whole 40 minutes,” Thompson said. “I think it shows the maturity of our team, and we are confident going down the stretch later in the season in close games, that our team will come out on top.”
Jhivvan Jackson, who came in as the nation’s leading scorer at 25.2 points a game, scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half and finished 10-of-21 shooting for the Roadrunners (4-7).
Keaton Wallace added 21 points and UTSA shot 45% from the floor, including 15 of 33 on 3-pointers.
“The first half we were a little stagnant, and the second half I think we were able to move the ball a lot better,” Jackson said. “We were driving and kicking. … We needed those stretches where we got stops, and we didn’t have them.”
The Beavers never trailed and used an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the first half at 38-24 on a Roman Silva layup with four minutes left in the first half. UTSA cut the lead to 41-34 at the half.
Oregon State scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 50-34 lead on a Thompson 3-pointer, and UTSA got no closer than six the rest of the way.
“We started the second half very poorly with four turnovers,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “They built that big lead. We made some runs at them but not enough.
Oregon State: OSU’s size was too much for the Roadrunners as the Beavers dominated the points in the paint, 44-14.
“We thought we would have an advantage in there not just with our bigs but across the board just because of the size difference,” Wayne Tinkle said of the advantage in the paint. “We got it in there various ways off post-ups, off picking and rolling.”
The Beavers need to find other scoring option outside Kelley, Thompson and Tinkle, who entered as Oregon State’s leading scorer but was in foul trouble throughout.
UTSA: The Roadrunners held the edge in points off turnovers 20-18 and outrebounded the Beavers 37-35. UTSA did well passing the ball around, finishing with 16 assists on 27 made field goals.
“We’re going to continue to hammer away defensively,” Henson said. “We made some strides with our rebounding, but we have to defend better.”
Oregon State faces Texas A&M in College Station on Saturday.
UTSA hosts Illinois State on Saturday.