Beavers Look to Bounce Back Vs. Bethune-Cookman

Dec. 12, 2004

CORVALLIS -

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UPCOMING: Following a heart-breaking overtime loss to Georgia on Saturday, the OSU men's basketball team (4-3) will try to bounce back just two days later when the Beavers host the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (3-2) on Monday night (Dec. 13) at Gill Coliseum. Game time is 7:05 p.m. The Wildcats are in the first of a three-game Northwest trip, with contests to follow against Oregon and Portland State. This is the last Beaver home game until after Christmas.

ON THE AIR: The Bethune-Cookman game can be heard live on the Beaver Radio Network (which includes 15 stations throughout Oregon), with Mike Parker calling the action. It can be heard on the internet by Yahoo! Sports college broadcast subscribers by going to www.osubeavers.com and following the links.

THE SERIES: This is the first meeting between OSU and Bethune-Cookman. The only other member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference that the Beavers have faced in the past is South Carolina State, with OSU holding a 2-0 edge.

LOOKING BACK: The Beavers had their chances to beat Georgia at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for Kids on Saturday (Dec. 11) in Atlanta, but the Bulldogs held on for a 76-74 overtime victory. OSU built a 13-point first-half lead and was ahead by 10 at halftime, 36-26. The game was tied in the final moments of regulation, but OSU's Chris Stephens hit a jumper on the right baseline to give the Beavers a 65-63 lead. Georgia's Sundiata Gaines hit a leaner in the key at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, 65-65. The Bulldogs had a 76-74 lead with under two seconds to play, but missed two free throws. On an out-of-bounds possession with 1.6 seconds left, J.S. Nash fired a perfect pass the length of the court, and it was caught by Nick DeWitz in the key. However, his hurried, under-pressure lay-up attempt just missed and the Bulldogs narrowly escaped double overtime. Marcel Jones had team highs of 14 points and eight rebounds, while Georgia's Levi Stukes scored 31 points.

INJURY UPDATES: After playing in all of the first 61 games of his career, junior guard Lamar Hurd has missed the last two games due to back spasms. His condition is day-to-day ... Sophomore guard Angelo Tsagarakis is practicing again and may be available soon. He had surgery on a dislocated shoulder in September. It's mostly a matter of conditioning ... Senior All-Pac-10 forward David Lucas has had the protective boot removed from his right foot and will slowly begin to condition over the next few weeks. He has not been fully cleared to practice, however. Lucas had surgery to repair a tendon on his right big toe on Oct. 28. While there is no definitive date for his return, OSU officials are cautiously optimistic that he could be back in the lineup in early January.

BENCH SCORING IMPRESSIVE: OSU's depth has been very good this season and may be among the best in the Pac-10 Conference. In the last three games, the Beaver bench has outscored the opponents' bench, 84-15. With the addition of Nick DeWitz, who appeared in his first game against Georgia, 10 OSU players are averaging at least 14.9 minutes per game of playing time. When David Lucas and Angelo Tsagarakis return from injuries, the bench will grow even deeper.

FREE THROWS ARE GOOD: If it was up to Jay John, he would send freshman forward Sasa Cuic or junior guards Chris Stephens and Jason Fontenet to the free throw line every time. Each is hitting 90 percent or better from the charity stripe. Cuic made 30 consecutive free throws earlier this season to tie an OSU record, and he is now 41 of 44 (.932). Stephens had a streak of 22 straight free throws end against Georgia. He's now 19-for-20 (.950) in 2004-05. Fontenet has made 18 of 20 attempts (.900), including a streak of 13 straight that just ended. Of Cuic's 110 total points this season, 35.7 percent have come from the free throw line. As a team, the Beavers are shooting 74.9% from the stripe, which is barely off the school record of 75.0% set in 1965-66.

THREE-POINTERS TOO: The Beavers are also faring well from beyond the three-point line, where they are off to a near-record pace from the stripe. The Beavers have hit on 37.5% (39-for-104) from beyond the arc, which would be the second-highest percentage in the history of the program. The school record is 40.6% (97-for-239) in 1988 -- the second year of the three-point shot. Marcel Jones (7-for-13, .538), J.S. Nash (6-for-14, .429) and Jason Fontenet (8-for-19, .421) have been the most accurate long-range shooters.

OSU KEEPS IT INTERESTING: Four of the first seven games have been decided by three points or less, keeping with a theme that the program had during last year's pre-Pac-10 action in which six of the nine games were decided by five points or less or in overtime (2OT and 3OT as well). Here's a closer look at this year:vs. Siena (W 69-67) -- Sasa Cuic completes a conventional three-point play with four seconds remaining. Siena's Kojo Mensah narrowly misses a three-point attempt at the buzzer.vs. East Carolina (L 64-62) -- Chris Stephens and Sasa Cuic miss three-point attempts in the last three seconds.vs. Portland (W 66-63) -- Kenny Hooks blocks a Darren Cooper three-point attempt at the buzzer.vs. Georgia (L 74-76 OT) -- In regulation, Chris Stephens hit a jumper with six seconds left to give OSU a two-point lead, but Georgia sends the game into overtime at the buzzer. With 1.6 seconds left in overtime, J.S. Nash throws a perfect length-of-the-court pass to Nick DeWitz, but his hurried, under-pressure lay-up attempt just misses.

BIG LEADS ARE NO CERTAIN THING: One area that Oregon State will seek to improve is to hold onto large leads. The Beavers led Colorado by 16 points twice in the first half before watching Colorado take a two-point lead with 7:31 remaining in the game. The Beavers regained their first-half magic and promptly went on a 16-3 run to gain control of the game again. OSU led Portland by 19 points before seeing its lead shrink to as few as two points with 36 seconds remaining. It finally cost the Beavers against Georgia. The Beavers had a 13-point first-half lead and a 10-point halftime lead, but ended up falling in overtime.

FREQUENT-FLYER MILES: Oregon State has made two trips to the Eastern time zone, with appearances at the Black Coaches Invitational in Raleigh, N.C., and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for Kids in Atlanta. It's believed to be the first time in the history of the program that OSU has made two separate non-postseason trips to an East Coast time zone locale. The Beavers will hit all four time zones in the non-conference season alone, with trips to Boise State (Mountain) and Prairie View (Central) coming up.

THE NEW CLASS: Head coach Jay John signed three student-athletes to national letters of intent during the early signing period (Nov. 10-17). Joining the program for 2005-2006 will be guards Josh Tarver (6-3, Jesuit HS, Portland, OR) and Wesley Washington (6-3, Compton CC, Compton CA), and power forward Calvin Hampton (6-9, New Hampton Prep School, NH). Tarver's brother Zach is a true freshman receiver on the OSU football team and his oldest brother Shon was a standout guard at UCLA (1991-94).

BEAVERS IN THE NBA: Two former Beavers are currently in the National Basketball Association. NBA all-star Gary Payton is in his 15th year in the league and first with the Boston Celtics, and Brent Barry is in his 10th year in the league and first with the San Antonio Spurs. A total of 26 former Beavers have played in the NBA.

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