Jan. 15, 2008
COUGARS OPEN FIRST PAC-10 HOMESTAND OF SEASON: The Washington State University men's basketball team returns home after a grueling three-game road stand to open the Pacific-10 Conference as it hosts Oregon State Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. and Oregon, Sunday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. at Friel Court in Pullman. Sunday's game will be televised live on FSN.
ABOUT THE COUGARS: No. 8 WSU comes off its first loss of the season, an 81-74 setback at UCLA Saturday, and enters the weekend with a 14-1 overall record and 2-1 league mark. After putting on a shooting clinic in the second-half of the game against the Bruins, senior Derrick Low continues to lead the team with 13.5 points per game. Fellow starters Aron Baynes and Kyle Weaver join Low in double-digits with 11.8 and 11.2 points per game, respectively. Baynes leads the team with 6.7 boards per game, while Weaver is averaging a team-best 1.7 steals per outing. Point guard Taylor Rochestie is right behind with 9.3 points per contest, while dishing out 4.9 assists per game.
ABOUT THE BEAVERS: Oregon State (6-10, 0-4) enters Thursday's game with a six-game losing streak. The Beavers' last win came Dec. 19 over Northern Colorado in Corvallis. Seth Tarver, the lone Beaver to start all 16 games this season, leads the team with 12.9 points per game. Marcel Jones is the only other OSU player to average double-digits in the scoring column with 11.9 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds a game. The Beavers are 2-4 on the road and 0-2 on the road in league play after dropping their first two conference games at Arizona and Arizona State, respectively. Last weekend OSU fell to Stanford and California on its home court.
THE SERIES AGAINST OREGON STATE: The Beavers lead the all-time series with the Cougars, 160-114, while WSU leads at home, 73-59. Last season the Cougs swept the season series, while Robbie Cowgill led the team with a 15.0 points per game average in the two meetings.
ABOUT THE DUCKS: Oregon (12-4, 3-1) comes to Pullman Saturday after taking on Washington at Bank of America Arena Thursday. After dropping their conference opener at Arizona State Jan. 3, the Ducks have won three-straight including victories over ranked Arizona and Stanford squads. The Pac-10's top offense is led by Malik Hairston's 18.1 points per game. Five Oregon players are averaging double-digit points, as the team is putting up 82.3 points per outing, good for 17th in the nation. Maarty Leunen is nearly averaging a double-double with 15.3 points and 9.9 boards per contest.
THE SERIES AGAINST OREGON: The Ducks hold 154-116 all-time advantage over the Cougars and have won the last 13 meetings, although WSU holds a 71-54 advantage at home. No member of this season's Cougar team or coaching staff has defeated Oregon as a part of the WSU basketball program, as Washington State's last win over Oregon came Feb. 15, 2001. Last season the Ducks swept the season series, including a thrilling 77-74 overtime game in Pullman, in which the Cougs' Derrick Low exploded for 37 points including nine 3-pointers.
DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: Even after giving up a season-high 81 points in their uncharacteristic defense showing Saturday, the Cougars continue to lead the nation defensively allowing just 52.5 points per outing, while ranking 12th in the nation in points allowed per possession (.852) and 36th in field goal percentage defense (.394).
LOW AT 997 CAREER POINTS: Senior Derrick Low needs just three points to reach 1,000 points in his WSU career. If he were to reach it, 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.
WEAVER NOT FAR BEHIND AT 904 POINTS: Fellow senior guard Kyle Weaver is on schedule to become the 29th Cougar to score 1,000 points in his career, as he enters this weekend with 904 points. Weaver is averaging 11.2 points per outing and is on track to get the 96 points he needs in WSU's next nine games.
LAST TEAMMATES TO REACH 1,000 CAREER POINTS: If Low and Weaver are to both reach 1,000 career points, they would become the first WSU teammates to reach the milestone together since Terry Kelly and Don Collins accomplished the feat in 1980. Fellow senior Robbie Cowgill has 793 career points, 207 shy of 1,000. If Cowgill were to also reach 1,000, it would mark the first time three teammates reached 1,000 career points in the same season. LOW COMES ALIVE IN SECOND HALF: Senior Derrick Low scored all 24 of his points in the second half at UCLA Saturday, 13 of them in the final five minutes of the game. The trend has been going on all season, as WSU's leading scorer is averaging nearly nine of his 13.5 points per game in the second half.
LOW ALSO KEY IN THE CLUTCH: WSU has trailed at halftime five times this season. In the five games, Derrick Low is averaging 17.8 points per game, 16.6 of those points in the second half. He's averaging 19.2 minutes in the second half when the Cougs enter the second period with a deficit, and is 21-of-30 (.700) from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half of those games.
HARMELING'S LUCKY BREAK: Since missing two games (Dec. 23 at Idaho State and Dec. 28 vs. North Carolina A&T) after fracturing his right thumb, redshirt junior Daven Harmeling has been on fire from the field. The forward, who averaged 6.4 points per game before the fracture and was just 5-for-26 from beyond 3-point, is averaging 11.7 points in the Cougars' last three games, including 10-for-14 from 3-point range.
RECAPPING THE LOSS AT UCLA: The then-No. 4 Cougars took on the then-No. 5 Bruins, Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, falling 81-74. Below is a look at the game:
Cougars reached largest first-half deficit of season at 18 points at the 4:07 mark in the first half. (Previous high was 14 at Baylor 11/30)...13-point halftime deficit largest of the season.
Daven Harmeling recorded WSU's first four-point play of the season.
Cougars fall to 13-92 all-time against UCLA...1-50 at UCLA...1-42 against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
WSU's 13 3-pointers is a season high...back-to-back games with 10 of more 3-pointers.
Low's six 3-pointers ties season high.
Cougars hit seven-straight 3-pointers in final two minutes before missing at end (Rochestie, Low, Harmeling).
WSU tied the school record for 3-pointers in a conference game.
WSU is 40-197 versus top-25 opponents...is 4-7 when ranked facing a ranked opponent...had won last two meetings with ranked opponents...won only other matchup with ranked opponent on the road this season (Dec. 5, 2007 at Gonzaga)...fall to 1-69 versus top-five opponents.
COUGARS OPEN WITH BEST START IN 91 YEARS: Although their winning streak was snapped at 14, the Cougars opened the season with their best start since the 1916-17 National Championship team opened 15-0. The school record is 17-0,accomplished in 1914-15. WSU also went through nonconference play without a blemish for just the fifth time in school history and the first since 1935-36. WSU GRABS BEST PAC-10 START IN 13 YEARS: The Cougars' 2-0 start to their Pacific-10 season this year marked the first time they'd won two-straight to open league play since 1994-95.
COUGARS MOVE UP IN RPI: Washington State moved up in the latest RPI (Rating Percentage Index) standings released this week to No. 25, fourth best in the Pac-10. The league as a whole ranks second in the RPI.
WINS AWAY FROM HOME: Prior to this week's matchups, WSU has hosted just four games at Friel Court this season and are 10-1 in games away from Pullman. The Cougars lead the nation in road/neutral-site wins with 10. Butler is second with nine, while North Carolina and Robert Morris each have eight road/neutral-site victories.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Cougars are undefeated at home this season and haven't lost at Friel Court since March 1, 2007. WSU has won five-straight games in Pullman.
CUTTING IT CLOSE: WSU's seven-point loss Saturday was its first setback since March 17, 2007 in the NCAA Tournament to Vanderbilt. Although they are 33-8 in their last 41-games, the Cougars have not loss a game in double-digits in that span, their last double-digit loss came at the hands of Utah in their first loss of the 2006-07 season, Dec. 2, by a score of 69-55.
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.
UP NEXT: The Cougars head back on the road as they travel to the Southwest to take on Arizona Thursday, Jan. 24 and Arizona State Saturday, Jan. 26.