Jackson State Visits for Final Non-Conference Game Sunday Afternoon

Dec. 23, 2003

Corvallis, Ore. -

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THEME: Oregon State plays its final non-conference game of the season in a rare Sunday afternoon (2:05 p.m.) appearance against the Southwestern Athletic Conference member Jackson State Tigers. Thankfully for the JSU players, the NCAA allows student-athletes to accrue frequent flyer miles, as the Tigers, of Jackson Miss., have already traveled to Louisiana Tech, Jacksonville State, Portland State, Montana, Utah State, Oklahoma and South Alabama.

ATOMIC DOG: Jackson State volunteer assistant coach Audie Norris, nicknamed the Atomic Dog, has some experience in the Pacific Northwest. Norris played 117 games for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1983-85. The Jackson State graduate is also featured in the popular Dire Straits video -- The Walk of Life.

SERIES: This is the first meeting between the Beavers and Tigers in men's basketball. OSU defeated JSU rival Prairie View A&M in this season's opener (Nov. 22) at Gill Coliseum (70-53). OSU is 2-0 all-time vs. SWAC members. The SWAC also includes Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Alcorn State, Alabama State, Grambling State, Texas Southern, Mississippi Valley State, Alabama A&M, and Southern.

MANICURE NEEDS: Oregon State coaches and fans may be headed for manicures over the holiday season after experiencing one nailbiter after the other this season. The last seven Division I games have been decided by an average of 5.4 points, and that includes a 15-point setback at Colorado. The last three games have been decided by a combined eight points.

THE 'START' OF SOMETHING: Entering Sunday's contest, Oregon State's eligible players have combined for 98 career Division I starts -- the lowest number in the Pac-10 Conference. Counting games through Dec. 27, the rest of the league shapes up with UCLA (142), Arizona State (147), California (148), Oregon (153), Arizona (165), Washington (176), Stanford (207), Washington State (221), and USC (273).

YOUTHFUL LOOK: Three true-freshmen have played this season, with the trio combining for 10 starts. Oregon State is one of only six schools in the nation without a senior on its roster, joining Pepperdine, Wake Forest, Tennessee, UNC-Asheville, and Harvard.

CREDIT THE DEFENSE: Oregon State has forced an average of 20.7 turnovers per game through nine contests, while averaging 14.7 -- a Pac-10 Conference leading plus 6.0. The last time OSU forced its opponents into a 20-plus average per game ratio was the 1979-80 season (20.0). The Beaver defense forced 13.8 last season, 12.5 in 2002, and 13.2 in 2001. OSU will need to be careful Sunday as Jackson State ranks 22nd in the nation with 10.8 steals per game.

WELL WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: Six overtime periods in eight regular season games, plus another during the exhibition slate. The Beavers have played a single overtime game (at Hawaii), double overtime (vs. Portland), and triple overtime (vs. Kansas State). The three games that have gone to extra periods are the most since the 1990-91 team played extra stanzas against New Orleans, UCLA, and Washington State. The total of six overtime periods is a school record, eclipsing the five played by the 1982-83 club. For future reference, the last time Oregon State played in four overtime games was during the 1985-86 season. Oregon State, Maryland, USC, Santa Clara, and Duquesne share the honor for most Division I overtime games this season with three -- through games of Dec. 22.

DON'T COUNT US OUT: Oregon State has shown some maturity in recent games by overcoming double figure deficits to give itself a chance for victory. Here is a closer look:

	Down 49-37 vs. Sac. State -- OSU takes the lead 63-62 (26-13 run)	Down 22-10 vs. Boise State -- OSU takes the lead 23-22 (13-0 run)	Down 59-49 vs. Boise State -- OSU takes the lead 60-59 (11-0 run)	Down 10-0 at Hawaii -- OSU ties the game 16-16 (16-6 run)

HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS: Even with team's struggles shooting, OSU is still averaging 15.8 assists per game. The Beavers are actually on pace for 442 total assists, a mark that would be the second-highest since the 1992 team had 549. The last three seasons the Beavers have averaged 13.6 (2003), 13.8 (2002), and 13.3 (2001).

QUICK HANDS: Through nine games last season, Oregon State had 45 steals -- compared to 70 this season against better competition. The Beavers rank third in the Pac-10 with a 7.8 per game average.

MODEST IMPROVEMENT: Oregon State has shot .411 overall in its Division I games this season, but it has made some improvement recently. Over the last two games (BSU, CSUS), the Beavers have improved to .469.

SHOOTER! SHOOTER! A common exclamation coming from coaches during games when a known shooting threat has the ball; maybe that should be the cry every time a Beaver has possession. Nine of OSU's 12 eligible players have attempted at least one three-point field goal, only Kyle Jeffers, Michael Johnson, and Derek Potter have failed to attempt a three, and only Potter is not a realistic threat from that range.

HOME TEAM: Oregon State's 17 regular season home dates are the most in the program's modern history. The team made only two non-conference road trips this season, Dec. 1 at Colorado and Dec. 15 at Hawai'i.

REBOUND RATIO: Oregon State enters Sunday's game looking to end a dubious streak that has seen it be outrebounded in all but one Division I game (Portland) this season. For the year, OSU is being outboarded 42.3-38.8 (-3.6). The 42.3 average would be the highest allowed since the 1994 team relinquished 42.9. On a positive note, OSU's 38.8 for the season would be its highest since the 1973 season (42.0).

TEAM CAPTAINS: Junior guard J.S. Nash and sophomore guard Lamar Hurd have been elected team captains for this season.

MAJOR MINUTES: Oregon State players haven't had too much to complain about regarding 'their' minutes. Eight players are averaging in double figures, with three averaging 33-plus. Point guard Lamar Hurd, who led the team last year for minutes played at 33.4, is playing 35.8 per game -- that does include a 45-minute double-overtime stint vs. Portland and a 43-minute effort vs. Kansas State. Guard J.S. Nash, who entered the year averaging 21.6 minutes for his 55-game career, is up to 34.4 for the season, which includes 46 vs. KSU. Chris Stephens played a total of 274 minutes last season, and has already eclipsed that total -- he is averaging 33.0.

HUGHES TO REDSHIRT: Freshman center Liam Hughes will redshirt this season. The 7-2, 306-pound center from Hullbridge, England is in his third year of organized basketball. Junior guard Jason Fontenet will also redshirt after transferring from New Mexico State.

THE MURAL OF THE STORY: A quick peek to the south rafters in Gill Coliseum will present you a look at a mural of some of the Oregon State University men's basketball greats. The recently completed mural includes the 1980-81 team, plus individuals Ralph Miller, Paul Valenti, Slats Gill, Steve Johnson, Charlie Sitton, Gary Payton, Lester Conner, Brent Barry, Scott Haskin, Wally Palmberg, Ed Lewis, Cliff Crandall, Mel Counts, Dave Gambee, Jose Ortiz, Jim Jarvis, A.C. Green, Charlie White, and Red Rocha.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: The Oregon State coaching staff signed one prospect to a national letter of intent during the November period. Joining the Beavers next season will be Marcel Jones from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. The 6-7 guard averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds last season for the California Interscholastic Federation champions.

BEAVERS IN THE NBA: Currently three former Beavers are residing in the National Basketball Association. NBA all-star Gary Payton is in his 14th year in the league and first with the Los Angeles Lakers. Brent Barry is in his ninth year in the league and fifth with the Seattle Sonics. Lester Conner is in his fifth year as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics, after a lengthy pro career. A total of 26 former Beavers have played in the NBA.

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