Beavers Finish Trip at Prairie View A&M

Dec. 20, 2004

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UPCOMING: The Oregon State men's basketball team (6-3), having won four of its last five games, finishes a two-game road trip at Prairie View A&M (0-7) on Tuesday (Dec. 21) at 5:30 p.m. PST/7:30 p.m. CST. Junior guard Lamar Hurd, who hails from nearby Houston, expects to have 50-75 family and friends in attendance. The Beavers are aiming for their first three-game winning streak of the season.

ON THE AIR: The Prairie View A&M game can be heard live on the Beaver Radio Network (which includes 15 stations throughout the Northwest), 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 second meeting between OSU and Prairie View A&M, a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Last season, the Beavers posted a 70-53 victory at home in the season opener on Nov. 11. Two currently injured players, David Lucas and Angelo Tsagarakis, led the way with 16 and 10 points, respectively.

LOOKING BACK: The Beavers posted their second-highest scoring output of the season in a 90-79 win at Boise State on Saturday (Dec. 18). Chris Stephens scored a team-high 21 points, including some important baskets and free throws down the stretch. Nick DeWitz had a strong all-around game with 17 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Sasa Cuic had 15 points and eight rebounds and Jason Fontenet had 14 points and four assists. OSU had a 17-point lead early in the second half, and although the Broncos repeatedly made the game close, the Beavers countered every run with one of their own.

INJURY UPDATES: Junior guard Lamar Hurd missed three straight games due to back spasms, but returned against Boise State ... Sophomore guard Angelo Tsagarakis is practicing again and may be available soon. He had surgery on a dislocated shoulder in September ... 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 five games, the Beaver bench has outscored the opponents' bench, 156-44. A total of 10 OSU players are averaging at least 14.2 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. Cuic made 30 consecutive free throws earlier this season to tie an OSU record, and he is now 48 of 53 (.906). Stephens had a streak of 22 straight free throws end against Georgia. He's now 25-for-26 (.962) in 2004-05. Fontenet has made 22 of 26 attempts (.846), including a streak of 13 straight that recently ended. Of Cuic's 134 total points this season, 35.8% have come from the free throw line. As a team, the Beavers are shooting 74.9% from the stripe, which is not far 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. OSU players have hit on 36.5% (54-for-148) from beyond the arc. The school record is 40.6% (97-for-239) in 1988 -- the second year of the three-point shot. J.S. Nash (9-for-20, .450), Marcel Jones (8-for-18, .444) and Jason Fontenet (12-for-28, .429) have been the most accurate long-range shooters.

SO CLOSE: The Beavers are six points away from having an 8-1 overall record (OSU has suffered two two-point losses).

OSU KEEPS IT INTERESTING: Four of the first seven games were 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 62-64) -- 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 hits a jumper with six seconds left to give OSU a two-point lead, but Georgia sends the game into overtime on a shot 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, which hasn't been easy at times. 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. Against Bethune-Cookman, the Beavers saw a 19-point halftime lead get cut to five points with 12 minutes to go, but OSU bounced back to regain a 20-point lead. A 17-point second-half lead against Boise State also got cut to five points with less than five minutes to play, though the Beavers posted an 11-point victory.

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 after the current trip to Boise State (Mountain) and Prairie View (Central).

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: The Beavers have three players who hail from overseas, and another that had to cross the U.S.' northern border to get to OSU. There are three Europeans: Sasa Cuic (Croatia), Angelo Tsagarakis (France) and Liam Hughes (England), while Derek Potter is from British Columbia. Another player, Jim Hanchett, served a two-year mission in Brazil and lived for a short time in Germany.

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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