Men's Basketball Opens Conference Season at Home

Dec. 17, 2001

Corvallis, Ore. -

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THIS WEEK: Oregon State (5-3) hosts the No. 10/11 (USA Today ESPN/Associated Press) Arizona Wildcats (5-2) Thurs., Dec. 20, signifying the opening of the Pacific-10 Conference season. The game will be played at Ralph Miller Court in Gill Coliseum, with tipoff scheduled for 7:07 p.m. OSU finishes the week hosting Arizona State (5-2) Sat., Dec. 22 at 2:07 p.m. in a game televised by Fox Sports Net.

EARLY START: The renewal of the Pacific-10 Conference postseason tournament has forced league games to begin before Jan. 1 for the first time since the 1990 season -- the last time the conference sponsored a league tournament.

PAC-10 OPENERS: Oregon State enters Thursday's game attempting to break a six-game losing streak in conference openers. The last time the Beavers were victorious in the opener was Jan. 5, 1995 against USC (90-89 ot).

OTHER THAN PORTLAND STATE...: With the exception of the arctic percentage at Portland State, Oregon State has been shooting the ball with success in recent games. The Beavers have hit .483 from the field over the last six games, and .518 in the same stretch minus the game at PSU (15-47).

STARTERS ON TARGET: Oregon State's typical five starters have opened the year with a combined shooting percentage of .538 (134-249) from the field. Junior guard Jimmie Haywood is the only starter under .500, at .462. The bench has not had similar success, shooting .323 (42-130).

THIS IS A GOOD SIGN: Oregon State has become known as a finesse team in recent years, but that reputation may be changing. Through the first eight games OSU has attempted 45 more free throw attempts than its opponents, an indication of players getting to the rim. In fact, OSU's opponents have been whistled for 29 more fouls. Beaver post players Philip Ricci, Brian Jackson, and Jarman Sample have combined for 55 percent of the team's 178 charity attempts.

CLOSING IN ON 1,500: Oregon State enters Thursday's game with 1,497 NCAA recognized victories, the 10th-highest figure in Division I basketball. Oregon State has the most victories of any school in the Pac-10 Conference.

NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENT INSIDE: Oregon State enters game nine of the season with 26 percent of its field goals coming from three-point range, compared to 34 percent last year, and 29 percent in 2000.

REBOUNDING MARGIN IS NOT THE WHOLE STORY, BUT IT'S CLOSE: Oregon State has a +0.8 rebounding margin average in its five victories, but a minus 12.7 average in its three losses. In the Beavers' loss to Cal Poly it was outboarded 20-8 on the offensive glass and in the loss to St. John's it was 18-5.

JUST PLAIN '2': Senior guard Brandon Payton will wear jersey number '2' for the remainder of the season. Payton wore '02' the first six games, but the number has been declared ineligible by the NCAA (Sect. 5, Art. 12).

OSU vs. RANKED OPPONENTS: Oregon State enters Thursday's game attempting to break a seven-game losing skid vs. nationally ranked opponents. The last victory for the Beavers vs. a top-25 team was March 2, 2000 against then No. 3 Arizona (70-69, ot) -- former player Deaundra Tanner hit a three at the buzzer for the victory.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE CLUB: Junior forward Philip Ricci has already recorded a trio of double-doubles this season. He is the first Beaver to have more than two in one season since Mustapha Hoff achieved seven in 1995.Philip Ricci, 15 pts, 10 reb. vs. Texas Philip Ricci, 17 points, 11 reb. vs. San Diego Philip Ricci, 23 pts, 10 reb at Cal Poly

A FULL BENCH: Head coach Ritchie McKay has many options this year when he turns to his bench, unlike last season. He has 14 'active' players for Saturday's game. McKay didn't have a game where he had more than nine available players in 2000-2001, and at times during the year had only seven.

STARTING STREAKS: OSU players Adam Masten and Brian Jackson have started 38 consecutive games each entering this week's action. For Jackson, he has started 94 percent (58 of 62) of his career college games.

OSU vs. ARIZONA: This is the 51st meeting between the two schools, with Arizona holding a 35-15 advantage. The Wildcats won both games last season, including a 68-41 decision in Corvallis. The 27-point margin ended a streak of three consecutive games played in Gill Coliseum that were decided by one point -- OSU won two of the three. Arizona shot .556 in last year's game in Corvallis, including .773 in the second half. OSU was just .318 for the game.

OSU vs. ASU: Oregon State has a 34-22 edge, but ASU has won five straight. The Sun Devils won 73-58 in Gill Coliseum last season, as OSU shot just .380 from the field. The victory was ASU's first of the conference season, after losing its first seven.

HOOPS RECRUITS ADDED: Ritchie McKay and his staff signed three athletes to national letters of intent during the early signing period. Joining the program for the 2002-2003 season are Kerbrell Brown (6-7, F) from Dodge City Community College in Kansas, Kevin Field (6-10, C) from Wilson High School in Tacoma, Wash., and Justin Holt (6-6, F) from Lincoln High School in Tacoma. The program has one remaining scholarship to offer during the late signing period April 10-May 15. A quick glance at the projected roster for next year (as of Nov. 15) includes four seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores, and two freshmen.

HEAD COACH RITCHIE McKAY: Ritchie McKay is in his second year at Oregon State, and is in his sixth overall as a head coach. McKay's record stands at 76-75, which includes an injury riddled 2001 season at OSU (10-20) and the first year of college basketball in 15 years at Portland State University (9-17). McKay spent two years at PSU and finished with a record of 24-29, then led Colorado State University for two of the program's most successful years ever, leaving with a mark of 37-23.

TOP EIGHT QUALIFY: For the first time since the 1989-90 season, the Pacific-10 Conference will hold a postseason tournament. The top eight teams from regular season play will qualify for the March 7-9 event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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