Oregon State's Jared Cunningham gained some TV fame for his follow-dunk against Arizona earlier in the season, but his real forte is steals in the Beavers' 1-3-1 zone scheme. STEVE DYKES / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

About a month after Jared Cunningham's follow-dunk - where he cut through the lane and elevated between Arizona Wildcats Kyle Fogg and Jesse Perry, causing the television announcer to say he "kisses the sky" - the Oregon State sophomore was watching a Pac-10 game on Fox Sports Net.

During a halftime commercial, he saw himself. The Pac-10 produced an ad that showed the dunk.

"I recorded it with my iPhone, so I watch it now and then," the guard said. "It's exciting."

Perhaps more than any other Pac-10 player, Cunningham takes pains to ensure he's not in videos like that - on the receiving end.

"He has to be one of the best practice players I've ever had a chance to coach," OSU coach Craig Robinson said. "He is just as likely to have three steals in practice as he is to have three steals in a game.

"When you practice that hard, you play that well."

Cunningham is a steals specialist in OSU's trapping 1-3-1 zone scheme.

His 77 swipes are the most ever by a Beavers sophomore, surpassing a record held by "The Glove" himself, Gary Payton, who had 72.

"He has great instincts; I think he knows all the spots to be in at the right times," OSU guard Roberto Nelson said. "That's something you can't teach somebody.

"He knows where that next pass is going. He sees where the ball is going two passes ahead of time.

"Plus, he's lightning-fast."

Cunningham leads the Pac-10 and is fourth in the nation with 2.85 steals per game, and he is third on the Beavers' single-season list.

Oregon State records more steals, 9.93 per game, than any team in America.

"When I see my teammates putting pressure on the ball, I look for the gaps and the openings of where the next pass is going to go," the Oakland, Calif., native said. "Just anticipation, staying on your toes.

"It takes a while. You've got to guard a space, and you gotta guard a man at the same time."

Robinson praised him for wanting to "not just be the athletic Jared Cunningham" during the off-season.

"He's kinda opened his mind and embraced the cerebral side of basketball, not just the physical side," Robinson said. "He's getting more assists, more smart steals.

"It's all come together for him."

Nelson called Cunningham, the team's leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, "our hardest worker" and the "guy that gets everybody going."

UA coach Sean Miller called him "a very active player," and he knows from first-hand experience.

He recorded five steals during the teams' first meeting, on Jan. 2, a 76-75 Beavers victory.

No current Arizona player has ever posted five steals in a college game.

But the Beavers also outscored the UA 17-2 on second-chance points, a pet peeve of Miller's.

None were more boisterous than the dunk to give OSU a four-point lead with three minutes to play.

Just watch the commercial.

"I tried to jump as high as I could," Cunningham said, "and slam it through."

Fits better than 'The Glove'

Jared Cunningham is adept at ball theft:


Steals in 2010-2011 - the most by a Beavers sophomore. Gary Payton, aka "The Glove," held the previous record (72).


Steals per game (1st in Pac-10, 4th in NCAA Division I)