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COUGARS

FROM CORVALLIS -- That phrase in the headline is a standard-issue cliche. But it's true when applied to the Washington State basketball team's recent success in this building. Read on.

...

In Ken Bone's tenure as WSU's coach, the Cougars have won seven Pac-12 road games -- once at Arizona, once at Stanford, once at Washington, and twice each at USC and Oregon State. WSU also took a game from the Beavers in this building last season in the College Basketball Invitational, so their winning streak here is at three games. So there are a number of players on this year's team who know the feeling of leaving here victorious. Will that help the Cougars today? Well, it can't hurt. WSU is the only team in the Pac-12 without a road win this season. ... Then again, maybe they're catching the Beavers at exactly the wrong time. OSU rolled UW on Wednesday, jumping the Huskies in the first half with an early run the visitors weren't able to overcome. Prior to that game, OSU had lost five in a row, including a 1-point loss at USC the week before. ... The Beavers get up and down the court a good bit, averaging 74.6 points per game this season thanks to five players who average double-figure scoring (there are actually six, but one of them is Angus Brandt, who played just four games before being lost for the season due to injury). Roberto Nelson averages 16.1 points per game and connects on 42.9 percent of his 3-pointers, and he and diminutive  guard Ahmad Starks (he's made 41.7 percent of the 108 3s he's attempted this year) give the Beavers a potentially dangerous backcourt to complement a lengthy frontcourt. They can be capable offensively when both parts are clicking. ... They do not, however, play defense particularly well. OSU ranks last in the conference in both field-goal percentage defense and scoring defense. Those numbers are even worse in conference-only games. And the Beavers' 1-3-1 zone defense hasn't been particularly puzzling for the Cougars in years past. ... Interesting stat from WSU sports information: Mike Ladd is the only player from a major conference to average 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists in conference play.

All for now. We'll be back after the game.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple




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