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No. 4 WSU Opens Pac-10 Play at UW
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 01/03/2008
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Jan. 3, 2008

NO. 4 WSU OPENS PAC-10 PLAY AT WASHINGTON: The fourth-ranked Washington State University men's basketball team puts its perfect 12-0 record on the line as it takes on cross-state rival Washington (9-4), in the two teams' Pac-10 openers, Saturday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at Bank of American Arena at Seattle.

ABOUT THE COUGARS: Washington State concluded nonconference play with the school's best start since the 1991-92 squad also opened the season 12-0. The Cougars went undefeated in nonconference play for the first time since 1935-36 and the first time as a member of the Pacific-10 Conference. Led by the nation's top defense (49.7 points allowed per game), WSU is also productive on the offensive end, ranking eighth in the nation in field goal percentage with a .506 clip from the field. The Cougs are also taking care of the ball this season, turning the ball over 11.0 times per game, good for sixth in the country. All five Cougar starters are averaging nine or more points per game this season, led by Derrick Low's 13.1 points per game. Kyle Weaver (11.6 points per game, 4.3 assists per game), Aron Baynes (11.3 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game), Robbie Cowgill (9.3 points per game, 1.1 blocks per game) and Taylor Rochestie (9.3 points per game, 5.1 assists per game), join Low in the staring lineup.

ABOUT THE HUSKIES: The Huskies boast the conference's third-ranked offense with 78.2 points per game, and enter Saturday's game with a 9-4 overall mark. Washington, which has used four different starting lineups this season, is led by Jon Brockman's 18.8 points and 11.0 rebounds per game this season. Ryan Appleby is back in the starting lineup after missing the team's first seven games due to injury, averaging 13.0 points per game, while Justin Dentmon is also averaging double-figures at 11.6 points per game. The Huskies have won their last five games, including victories at home versus Portland, Portland State, Cal State Northridge and on the road at LSU.

THE SERIES: Friday's meeting between Washington State and Washingon is the 264th in the all-time series, with the Cougars holding a five-game winning streak over their West Side foes. The Huskies hold a 167-96 advantage in the series, which dates back Jan. 16, 1911. UW also holds a 97-33 advantage on its home court, although WSU has won the last two meetings in Seattle. The Cougars swept the series last season, including a win in the Pac-10 Tournament. For more on the series, see page five in the notes.

COUGARS IN PAC-10 OPENERS: The Cougars are 10-19 all-time in Pacific-10 openers (beginning in 1978-79 season). WSU is 1-13 when opening on the road (won at Washington in 1987-88) and 3-4 when beginning with UW and 1-3 when opening at Washington.

THIS DATE IN COUGAR BASKETBALL HISTORY: The Cougars are 16-16 when playing games Jan. 5.The last time WSU played a game on Jan. 5 was its 1997-98 Pac-10 opener at Washington, resulting in a 82-76 loss.

WSU OFF TO BEST START IN 16 YEARS: Washington State's 12-0 start this season is the best by a Cougar men's basketball squad since the 1991-92 team opened up at 12-0 and is tied for the fifth-best start in school history. The best start by a WSU squad occurred in 1914-15 with a 17-0 record to open the season. Last season WSU opened the season 7-0 before falling at Utah, and started the Pac-10 season with an 11-1 mark. The Cougars went undefeated in nonconference play for the first time since the 1935-36 season and the firs time as a member of the Pacific-10 Conference.

RECAPPING AGAINST NORTH CAROLINA A&T: No. 4 WSU defeated North Carolina A&T, 67-34 in its final tune-up before conference play. Below is a look at the victory:
• Fifth time in school history the Cougars have gone through nonconference season undefeated...first since 1935-36...first as a member of the Pacific-10 Conference.
• WSU's 12-0 start ties the best start since 1991-92 when team started 12-0...ties for fifth-best start in school history.
Kyle Weaver moved two spots into a tie for fifth in the WSU career record books for steals with three...is tied with Mike Bush with 149.
• The Aggies' 12 first-half points are the fewest allowed by the Cougars in a first half this season...previously 17 vs. MVSU (11/24)...WSU's 21-point halftime lead marked its largest of the season.
• The Cougars opened the second half making their first nine shots (9-for-9) in the first six minutes...first miss came just under 13 minute mark.
Jeremy Cross scored a career-high four points... played a career-high 14 minutes.

COWGILL REACHES 100 CAREER BLOCKS: Senior forward Robbie Cowgill leads the team with 13 blocks this season giving him 102 for his career. The Austin, Texas native ranks fifth on WSU's career list for blocks. James Donaldson holds the record with 176 which he accomplished in 84 games from 1976-79.

LOW MOVES UP IN 3-POINT RECORD BOOKS: Senior guard Derrick Low moved up a spot to sixth in WSU's career record books for 3-pointers made with his five made at Idaho State. Low now has 60 made 3's in his career. Low is 42 3-pointers away from Chris Crosby in fifth place.

WEAVER MOVING UP IN STEALS: Kyle Weaver moved up two spots to a tie for fifth in the WSU career record books for steals with his three steals against North Carolina A&T. Weaver is now tied with Mike Bush for fifth with 149 steals.

LOW EYING 1,000 POINTS: Senior guard Derrick Low is just 48 points shy of reaching 1,000 points for his career with 952. The 6-2 guard has 157 points this season and is averaging 13.1 ppg. If Low can keep up his pace, he's on schedule to reach 1,000 points in January. Low would become the 28th Cougar to score 1,000 points in his career, the most recent was Thomas Kelati who reached 1,081 points in his career which spanned from 2002-05.

COUGARS ON TELEVISION: At least 14 of the Cougars' 18 Pacific-10 Conference games will be televised live on either FSN or ABC this season. WSU's final two regular-season games have the possibility of being picked up as `wildcard' picks for television. The Cougars will appear on television a minimum of 18 times this season, which ties the 2005-06 team for the most televised games in school history.

WSU HIGHEST RANKED PAC-10 TEAM FOR FIRST TIME: Earlier this season, the Cougars became the highest ranked Pacific-10 team in the Associated Press Poll for the first time in school history, coming in at No. 7, ahead of No. 8 UCLA. WSU is currently at No. 4 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, one spot ahead of fifth-ranked UCLA.

SECOND HALF STRENGTH: Despite trailing three times at halftime, the Cougars have dominated in the second half this season, outscoring their opponents 465-313 in the final 20 minutes of play for a 13-point average scoring margin in the second period. The Cougars were outscored in the second half for the only time this season at Gonzaga (28-23).

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: Not surprisingly under Tony Bennett the Cougars find themselves at the top of the Pac-10 in several defensive categories. WSU leads the league and nation with 49.7 points allowed per game. A testament to their second-ranked field goal percentage in the conference at .506 (eighth in the nation), the Cougars rank second in rebounding defense, giving up 26.9 rebounds per game.

GETTING TO THE LINE: The Cougars have been successful at getting to the line and equally successful once they've gotten there this season. They lead the league and rank eighth in the nation in free throw percentage (.768). WSU has made a league second-best 192 free throws out of 250 attempts. Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low rank second and third in free throw percentage with clips of .849 and .829, respectively.

BEST 45-GAME SPAN IN NEARLY 65 YEARS: In their last 45 games (all under second-year head coach Tony Bennett), the Cougars are 38-7, matching the 45-game span record of Jack Friel's 1940-41 and 1941-42 squads. The best 45-game span by a Cougar team came from Fred Bohler's three squads from 1915-18 in which the teams compiled a 41-4 record at one point.

WSU EARNS BEST ALL-TIME RANKING: Washington State jumped three spots in the Dec. 24 Associated Press Poll and two in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls, coming in at No. 4 in both rankings. The No. 4 rankings are the highest for the Cougars in school history by the respective polls. WSU's previous high was No. 6 which was held this season. The Cougars have been ranked in the top-10 in all eight releases of the polls thus far this season, including their first-ever preseason ranking.

TWO STREAKS END AT THE LINE: Derrick Low had made 24-consecutive free throws dating back to last season, before his miss just under the nine minute mark of the second half against Montana Nov. 23 ended his streak. His streak ranks third all-time in school history and came just seven shy of the school record (31) set by Thomas Kelati in 2004. Earlier this season, Taylor Rochestie ended his streak of 19-consectutive free throws with his free throw miss in the second half of the game at Boise State. The redshirt junior had tied for the seventh-best streak in school history.

LOW AND WEAVER ON WATCH LISTS: Senior guards Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver have each been named to both the 2007-08 Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T Preseason Watch List and the Men's 2007-08 John R. Wooden Award Top-50 Candidate list. Weaver is also a preseason 2008 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award Candidate and a Low's Senior CLASS Award Candidate. On top of that, Weaver has been named to the Basketball Times preseason All-America team and was named a third-team preseason All-American by Fox Sports.

COUGARS HOLD HOT TICKET: With expectations set high for the Cougars in 2007-08, tickets are going fast for WSU home games this season. The season opener against EWU was a sellout, as is the Cougars' regular season finale against Washington, set for March 8 and their matchup with Pac-10 favorite UCLA Feb. 7.

UNDER BENNETT: The Cougars' record has glowed under second-year head coach Tony Bennett. Aside from a 38-8 record under Bennett, WSU has only lost twice when trailing at halftime under Bennett (13-2). The Cougars are also 17-1 when shooting better than 50 percent, 24-1 when holding an opponent to under 40 percent shooting from the field and 24-2 when holding an opponent under 60 points (12-0 when holding under 50 points) with Bennett at the helm.

HARMELING FRACUTRES THUMB: Washington State redshirt junior Daven Harmeling fractured his right thumb in practice, Dec. 21 and is out indefinitely. His injury does not require surgery and his thumb will be X-rayed again the week of Jan. 8.

ROCHESTIE GIVING BACK: Redshirt junior guard Taylor Rochestie decided to voluntarily come off his scholarship for the 2008-09 year, his senior season. Rochestie made the decision in order to free up another scholarship and give back to the program. WSU Head Coach Tony Bennett said of his guard's decision, "I think this shows how much of a leader and great teammate Taylor is and for him to want to do something like this to help establish the future of our program in this manner is just incredible."

UP NEXT: The Cougars remain on the road for their grueling opening to the Pac-10 schedule as they take on USC Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. and UCLA Jan. 12 at 11:30 a.m. Both games will be televised live on FSN.

Washington State Cougars Men's Basketball
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