Beavers Look to Start Pac-10 With Win

Dec. 29, 2004

Corvallis -

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UPCOMING: The Oregon State men's basketball team (8-3 overall), with a strong non-conference season now behind it, looks to do something that it hasn't done in a decade -- win its Pacific-10 Conference opener. The Beavers will aim to break that streak against UCLA (6-2 overall) on New Year's Eve (Friday, Dec. 31) at 3:05 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. The last time OSU opened Pac-10 play with a win was in 1994-95 (1/5/95 at home vs. USC, 90-89 in overtime). While that's a streak that they'll be looking to end, the Beavers will look to keep another one going, as they have won four in a row for the first time since midway through the 2002-03 season. After that, OSU takes on USC (7-4 overall, plays at Oregon on Friday) on Sunday (Jan. 2) at 2:05 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. Good news for the Beavers -- senior All-Pac-10 forward David Lucas has made a successful return from injury.

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

THE SERIES (UCLA): Oregon State is 32-74 all-time against UCLA. The Beavers won last year's meeting in Corvallis, 65-56, as Chris Stephens scored 18 points. But, the Bruins had won nine of 10 meetings before that, dating back to 1998-99. OSU hasn't beaten UCLA twice in a row at Gill Coliseum since 1989-90 and 1990-91.

THE SERIES (USC): Oregon State is 53-56 all-time against USC. The Trojans won both meetings last year, including a 63-60 win at Gill Coliseum in OSU's season finale. Chris Stephens scored 22 points for the Beavers in that game. OSU has won three of the last seven meetings, including a 2-2 mark in the last four games at Gill Coliseum.

LOOKING BACK: Oregon State closed out non-conference play with an 86-59 whipping of Sacramento State on Tuesday night (Dec. 28) at Gill Coliseum. David Lucas made his return from injury by posting 13 points and three rebounds in 17 minutes of action. J.S. Nash had a game-high 15 points and also led the Beavers with four assists. Sasa Cuic and Marcel Jones were also in double-figures with 14 and 11 points, respectively. OSU took a 23-point halftime lead and maintained a big lead in the second half.

INJURY UPDATES: Senior All-Pac-10 forward David Lucas was cleared to practice right after Christmas. He had surgery to repair a tendon on his right big toe on Oct. 28 and missed the first 10 games of the season. After two practices, he made his season debut against Sacramento State on Dec. 28 ... Senior forward Derek Potter suffered a sprained ankle in practice and will likely be out 7-10 days ... Sophomore guard Angelo Tsagarakis has been practicing since early December, though he's not quite ready to play. He had surgery on a dislocated shoulder in September.

SO CLOSE: The Beavers are six points away from having an 9-1 overall record (OSU has suffered two two-point losses).

EIGHT-FOR-ELEVEN: Over the past seven seasons, an 8-3 record matches the best mark that OSU has put together after 11 games. The Beavers were also 8-3 in 1999-2000. Those are the best starts since a 9-2 record in 1997-98.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Beavers are 4-0 at Gill Coliseum, their best start at home since 1999-2000 (when they won their first six home games). The Beavers are averaging 79.8 points, while opponents are averaging 66.2 points. OSU is shooting 46.2% from the field, 36.6% on three-pointers and 75.0% from the foul line in home contests.

BENCH SCORING IMPRESSIVE: OSU's depth has been very good this season and may be among the best in the Pac-10 Conference. The Beaver bench has outscored the opponents' bench seven times, with OSU posting a 6-1 record in those games. The OSU bench is averaging 26.1 points per game, with a season high of 44 points against Sacramento State. A total of 11 OSU players are averaging at least 13.5 minutes per game of playing time.

FREE THROWS ARE GOOD: Several free throw shooters have had impressive streaks this season, and have hit for an excellent percentage. Sasa Cuic made 30 consecutive free throws earlier this season to tie an OSU record, and he is now 53 of 61 (.869). Chris Stephens had a streak of 22 straight free throws made. He was leading the Pac-10 in free throw percentage earlier this season and is now 28-for-31 (.903) in 2004-05. Jason Fontenet has made 26 of 33 attempts (.788), including a streak of 13 straight at one point. Of Cuic's 160 total points this season, 33.1% have come from the free throw line. As a team, the Beavers are shooting 73.2% 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 35.9% (61-for-170) from beyond the arc. The school record is 40.6% (97-for-239) in 1987-88 -- the second year of the three-point shot. J.S. Nash (12-for-26, .462), Marcel Jones (8-for-20, .400) and Jason Fontenet (12-for-31, .387) have been the most accurate long-range shooters.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: In nearly every game, the Beavers have come out ready to play at tip-off. OSU is averaging 36.3 points in the first half to the opponents' 27.1, and has led at halftime in nine of 11 games. But, second halves have been an entirely different matter. After the break, OSU is averaging exactly the same at 36.3 points, but opponents are averaging 40.5 points, and the opponents have scored more second-half points in seven of 11 games.

BIG LEADS THAT DISAPPEAR: As a result of OSU's Jekyll and Hyde first half/second half phenomenon, the Beavers took a double-digit lead in nine of the first 10 games -- but either gave it up partly, or entirely, all nine times. Here are the details:• Siena: led by 14 in the first half, then trailed by nine in the second half before winning by two... • East Carolina: led by 13 in the first half, but suffered a two-point loss... • Elon: led by 14 in the second half, then had the lead cut to three points before winning by 10... • Portland: led by 19 in the second half, then had the lead cut to two points before winning by three... • Colorado: led by 16 in the first half, then trailed by two in the second half before winning by 11... • Georgia: led by 13 in the first half, but suffered a two-point overtime loss... • Bethune-Cookman: led by 20 in the second half, then had the lead cut to five points before winning by 13... • Boise State: led by 17 in the second half, then had the lead cut to five points before winning by 11... • Prairie View A&M: led by 17 in the second half, then had the lead cut to one point before winning by four.

DOWN TO THE LAST SECOND: 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.

FREQUENT-FLYER MILES: Oregon State 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 hit all four time zones in the non-conference season alone after the trip to Boise State (Mountain) and Prairie View A&M (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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