An interesting night in the Pac-10. Not only do the Cougars throttle Oregon, the Huskies win to move back atop the conference standings when UCLA fades late in a loss to Arizona State. And Arizona continues its roll, getting past USC at home. With its win, WSU is all alone in seventh place in the conference with Oregon State, a game back at 4-8, coming in Saturday. Read on.
• Let's just say this: Yes, Oregon is playing poorly. That the Ducks are the worst team in the Pac-10 can't be argued. But that the Cougars played well, possibly as well as they have all season, can't be argued either. For most of the game, for most possessions, WSU played tough, aggressive, hair-on-fire defense and executed offensively. All in all, except for the turnovers, this was a near perfect WSU win. But those turnovers. The Cougars had 17, though only 10 with 11 minutes left. A lot of the total came with subs on the floor, but too many came against the Ducks' not-all-that-tough pressure. That number has to be lowered Saturday, if WSU wants to defeat OSU, a 79-60 loser at UW on Thursday, and open a two-game lead over the Beavers in the standings.
• OK, enough of my ramblings. Let's get to the links. You can find my game story here, along with a longer version with some notes on this site. One thing I mentioned last night was the presence of former Coug Kyle Weaver in the stands. Weaver made the trek to Pullman while the Oklahoma Thunder is on break for the NBA all-star game. Watching Weaver work the crowd, hug the referees, send his smile towards everyone he met, well it seemed like time was standing still for a few minutes, stuck in 2008. Back when we all were younger. ... Let's see, the P-I, and other West Side papers, ran freelancer Howie Stalwick's story while the Times used the AP's . ... From the Oregon side of things, here's John Hunt's story in the Oregonian (I'm sorry, but I can't get the Register Guard website to load right now, getting a server availability error). The Oregonian also has its usual Pac-10 notebook on the web.
• For more from around the conference, the Arizona schools swept their LA counterparts last night, with ASU getting a "defining" win over UCLA, according to this Arizona Republic story. The Sun Devils shot 60 percent from the floot against a UCLA team that seemed to be finding its defensive intensity last week. ... Down the road in Tucson, the Wildcats won for the sixth consecutive time, defeating USC, 83-76. Arizona is 12-2 at home this year. ... Justin Dentmon continued his outstanding senior season, scoring 28 points as the Huskies pulled away from Oregon State and moved a half-game ahead of UCLA in the conference standings. With Oregon coming in Saturday for a noon game, that lead should hold into next week.
• That's it for the links. We have a few more thoughts on last night's WSU win, from the players and coaches. We'll share those.
WSU coach Tony Bennett on the recent play: "I still think against California we pretty good defensively. We had stretches against Stanford. We were 9-for-13 tonight from the 3. I know what that feels like, we had it done to us twice. Saturday, I was pleased against Cal and tonight, I was pleased."
Oregon coach Ernie Kent on the Ducks sluggish play: "We just hit the wall with everything these kids have been through. ... Right off the bat our energy was flat."
Kent on Klay Thompson: "Thompson is a very good player. ... He might be freshman of the year in the conference right now, because he’s playing extremely well."
Oregon freshman Drew Wiley: "They came ready. We thought we were ready, but we just laid an egg. We’re not that bad."
• That's it for this morning. We will be back this evening with our story for tomorrow. Till then …