By Nick Daschel

The Oregonian

Next up

No. 9 Oregon St. at No. 3 Oregon

When: 6 p.m. Friday

TV: Pac-12 (Ore)

CORVALLIS — Scott Rueck calls this week “weird.” Katie McWilliams says, “It’s another game, another Civil War.”

It is an unusual week for Oregon State women’s basketball, but it is hardly another Civil War.

One, the Beavers are accustomed to. The other, unprecedented.

For the first time since the 2012-13 season, Oregon State and Oregon play back-to-back games. It is like no other situation on either team’s schedule. OSU heads to Eugene on Friday to play the Ducks, then returns to Corvallis for an ESPN2-televised showdown against Oregon.

“It’s weird. I don’t think anybody loves it, but at the same time it presents an interesting challenge,” Rueck said.

But Friday’s game, and Monday’s game — depending on how the rankings shake out earlier in the day — mark the first all-top-10 Civil War in the series’ 93-game history. Oregon (12-0 Pac-12, 23-1 overall) is No. 3 and leading the Pac-12, while Oregon State (10-2, 20-4) is No. 9 and alone in second place.

Neither game will go unnoticed. Friday’s 6 p.m. game is a sellout at Matthew Knight Arena, as the Ducks announced earlier this week on social media.

Hard to say where Monday’s 6 p.m. game at Gill Coliseum stands, although it is one of two nationally televised women’s games that day. Oregon State declined to answer how close Monday’s OSU-Oregon game is to a sellout.

Regardless if there is one or 10,000 in Gill — and certainly a capacity crowd at MKA — the Beavers will have their hands full.

Just look at last week’s results. Oregon State struggled to get its offense going against Stanford and lost 61-44. Two days later, the Ducks pasted the Cardinal 88-48, handing Stanford its worst loss of the 33-year Tara VanDerveer era.

What chance does ­Oregon State have facing an Oregon juggernaut coming off a boat-racing of the Stanford team that handled the Beavers?

When the Beavers look at the Stanford-Oregon video, they will ignore the end result.

“You can’t get emotional about this. This is X’s and O’s, this is what they do, this what we have to do to stop it,” Rueck said. “Who cares what Stanford did? This is about us. This is about what they do, and what we do.

“I don’t think anybody on our team thinks our Stanford game was a true representation of us.”

Rueck also points out that a Pac-12 team preparing for the Oregon schools is like no other in league play. It is the only time a team must get ready to play back-to-back top-10 teams during the same weekend.

“It’s a lot to prep for,” Rueck said.

But Rueck believes Oregon State is better for going through the experience of last week, where Stanford imposed its will and won going away. Two days later, the Beavers got in a deep hole against California but dug out and won 82-74.

“How do you respond when you get punched in the face on the road, that was the lesson,” Rueck said. “Really the first time that happened to this group, and it turned out to be a positive.”

As for this year’s Civil War games, they are unlike many in recent years as Oregon State is truly an underdog. From 2011 to 2018, the Beavers won 14 consecutive games against Oregon, a streak that came to an end last January in Eugene, when the Ducks won 75-63.

Oregon has won a current NCAA-high 16 consecutive games, all but two by double-digit margins. The Beavers have won 20 games for a sixth consecutive year, but their resume does not have quite as much pizazz as the Ducks.

But it is good enough that on Monday the NCAA announced its first look at how it views the top 16 teams in the women’s tournament and gave OSU the No. 3 seed in the Albany regional. Rueck said he would have been surprised if the Beavers were not among the top 16 seeds, adding that “we honestly should have been higher than we were.”

This week’s games are Oregon State’s chance to speak to the committee. Beat Oregon, even once, and it’s a statement. Some believe the Ducks are the country’s best team, as they earned three first-place votes in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 ranking.

Oregon is far more than triple-double savant Sabrina Ionescu, who is on a short list for national player of the year. The Ducks’ five starters all have double-figure scoring averages. Oregon leads the nation in scoring (90.2 points) and 3-point shooting (43.8 percent).

“This is no longer the team of two years ago figuring it out, or even last year kind of figuring it out,” Rueck said. “This team knows exactly where it wants to go with the ball.”

Rueck listed several things Oregon State must do to overcome Oregon this weekend. But after hearing all the little things Rueck mentioned, what matters most are his first four words.

“Well, a great effort,” he said.

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