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Cougars take on stingy 13-ranked Ducks

Washington State coach Ernie Kent won’t have the services of four-star recruit Roberto Gittens this season. (Young Kwak / AP)
Washington State coach Ernie Kent won’t have the services of four-star recruit Roberto Gittens this season. (Young Kwak / AP)

PULLMAN – Ernie Kent was on the sidelines in Eugene in 2002 when Oregon won its school-record 23rd consecutive home game.

Boy, he’d like to be anywhere else when the Ducks win their 24th. Dana Altman’s 13th-ranked UO team (21-6, 10-4 Pac-12) can break the record against Kent’s Washington State Cougars this week and keep pace with Arizona in the Pac-12 title hunt.

While WSU (9-18, 1-14) is certain to finish the season in last place, they can still have some fun playing spoiler against Oregon State and Washington teams hoping to sneak into the NCAA tournament, or by dashing UO’s regular season championship hopes.

“We play the best team in the conference yet, so that’s going to be a good gauge heading into the Pac-12 tournament,” junior forward Josh Hawkinson said. “And then, you know, just getting a couple wins for these seniors to end their season.”

The Ducks appeared to be runaway favorites to win the Pac-12 crown prior to a mid-February sweep by California and Stanford on the road. Dillon Brooks has emerged as a conference Player of the Year contender behind the current favorite, Utah center Jakob Poeltl.

Wednesday’s game begins a three-week road trip for the Cougars, who will play at Washington next week and then travel to Las Vegas the following week for the Pac-12 tournament. The Cougars have not won a road game and are 1-2 in neutral site games.

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