EUGENE, Ore. – The television replay they watched Friday looked awfully familiar to the Washington State Cougars.
It was of Oregon’s 82-57 disassembly of Washington on Thursday night, but it might as well have been the film of a similar game the Ducks played on Dec. 29.
Their opponent that night was the Cougars, as it will be again at 3 p.m. today at Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks shot nearly 70 percent from the field against WSU in that conference-opening game, a 92-75 Oregon victory at Spokane Arena.
So WSU (13-11, 5-7 Pac-12) didn’t really need to see the Oregon-Washington tape to know the Ducks are capable of torching just about anybody.
“It was similar to our game with them,” said coach Ken Bone, seated at a table in the team’s hotel lobby on Friday. “They came out with a ton of energy and just got after it from the get-go.”
That’s what Oregon (17-7, 8-4) did to Washington State the first time around. But it’s also what the Cougars did to Oregon State on Thursday, blitzing the Beavers with a big first half before winning 83-73 for their first conference road victory of the season.
The Cougars received a boost from sophomore forward D.J. Shelton, who achieved career highs in points (14) and rebounds (nine, six offensive) while playing 24 minutes. He spent most of the previous weekend on the bench, sitting the duration of a 60-53 win over USC before playing just three minutes in a loss to UCLA.
Despite sporadic playing time, Bone said Shelton’s attitude and work ethic in practice hasn’t wavered.
“Some of that stuff made me hungrier, just to come out and work harder just to prove to everybody I’m not giving up,” said Shelton, who averages 13.5 minutes per game. “I’m still here.”
Shelton said teammates and coaches have offered words of encouragement all season, especially after games in which he didn’t see the floor much. That’s helped, he said.
“As guys play better and better, you continue to have more and more confidence in putting them in the game,” Bone said. “He did a great job last night to where my guess is he’ll get in the game quickly (today).”
It seemed nobody accomplished that the first time the Cougars met the Ducks. Oregon built a 54-34 lead by halftime, a combination of its own hot shooting and WSU’s poor defense.
“They hit a lot of shots, but I think that was due to our lack of defense,” said WSU forward Brock Motum, who has scored at least 24 points in each of his team’s last four games. “We had a few slip-ups and they took advantage of that on numerous occasions.”
Of particular concern are Oregon’s perimeter players, specifically guards Devoe Joseph – a 47.6 percent 3-point shooter in conference play, and the team’s leading scorer at 15.7 points per game – and Garret Sim (44.8 percent from long range in Pac-12 games, 46.2 percent overall).
“They definitely got our attention,” Bone said. “They lit us up like they did Washington last night. Before we knew it, we were down 10 or 12. You can’t start out a game like that.”