Beavers Close Regular Season at USC on Saturday

March 4, 2005

Corvallis -

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UPCOMING: The Oregon State men's basketball team (16-12 overall, 8-9 Pacific-10 Conference, fifth place), having its best season in the last 15 years, closes out the regular season at USC (11-17, 4-13, 10th place) on Saturday (March 5) at 7:30 p.m. A win would assure the Beavers of the #5 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament, and snap its streak of losses in Pac-10 road games (0-8 this year). This is the first of two straight trips to Los Angeles, as the Pac-10 Tournament is at Staples Center next week. Nick DeWitz has been honored with the Pac-10's Fred Hessler Award, given to the league's top newcomer (non-freshman).

OF HISTORICAL NOTE: The Beavers have clinched their first overall winning record since 1989-90 ... They also have their most wins since that season (22) ... The Beavers have their most conference wins since 1992-93 (nine) ... OSU is poised to take part in a postseason tournament beyond the Pac-10 Tournament for the first time since 1990.

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

THE SERIES: Oregon State is 54-56 all-time against USC. The trend as of late has been season sweeps, as the Trojans won both in 2002, the Beavers won twice in 2003 and the Trojans were victorious in both games in 2004. USC has won eight of the last nine games in Los Angeles.

LAST MEETING: OSU began 2-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time since 1992-93 after a 74-64 home win against USC on Jan. 2. David Lucas had 17 points and seven rebounds as the Beavers overcame a four-point halftime deficit. Jason Fontenet scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half.

LOOKING BACK: The Beavers gave another strong road effort on Thursday night at UCLA and had a two-point lead with under three minutes to go, but the Bruins scored the game's final 10 points for a 69-61 victory. The game saw a total of 18 lead changes, and neither led by more than five points until the final minute of the game. David Lucas continued his hot play with 24 points, but the only other OSU player in double-figures was Chris Stephens with 10. UCLA has won 16 of the last 17 meetings in Pauley Pavilion (the OSU victory was in 2003).

LUCAS' HONORS: David Lucas is one of the hottest players in the conference right now. He's been honored as Pac-10 Player of the Week twice this season, the second coming on Feb. 14 after averaging 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in a sweep of the Washington schools. His first of the season came on Jan. 3 after a sweep of the Los Angeles schools. The last OSU player to earn the award twice in one season was Brent Barry in 1994-95. It's Lucas' third career honor, and he joins a select group of OSU players who have won the award three or more times: Gary Payton (nine), A.C. Green (four), Scott Haskin (three) and Jose Ortiz (three). Lucas has also been named to the 2004-05 NABC All-District 14 second team.

MORE ON LUCAS: As the Beavers make their run down the stretch, David Lucas is playing some of the best basketball of his OSU career. In the last nine games, Lucas has scored 20 or more points seven times and is averaging 21.1 points and 8.9 rebounds. He's led the Beavers (or tied for the lead) in scoring in 13 of 17 conference games. He's averaging 18.6 points overall and 18.9 in the Pac-10 (good for fourth in conference games only). OSU had no double-doubles in the first 19 games of the season, but Lucas now has five in the last nine games. His overall statistics don't qualify him among the Pac-10 leaders yet because he missed the first 10 games of the season due to surgery on his right big toe. Despite missing all that time, Lucas leads the Beavers in games with double-figure points (17), 20+ point games (nine), games leading the team in scoring (13) and games leading the team in rebounding (12).

DeWITZ DELIVERS: If there's a list of the top Division I transfers from this past year, Nick DeWitz belongs on it. The former Iowa Hawkeye has been a true standout, averaging 13.9 points (10th in the Pac-10) and 5.4 rebounds. He is the winner of the Pac-10's Fred Hessler Award, given to the league's top newcomer (non-freshman). His versatility shows in the fact that he's #1 in the Pac-10 in three-point percentage and #3 in blocked shots. If thunderous dunks were a statistic, he'd be doing well there too. In the last eight games, he's averaging 16.1 points and shooting 59.3% (16-for-27) on three-pointers. Please see the paragraphs related to blocked shots and three-pointers that follow for some more of his notable accomplishments.

JOHN'S HONORS: OSU Coach Jay John was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year by ... Jay Bilas of named John a runner-up for his Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors ... Following OSU's sweep of the L.A. schools, John was named National Coach of the Week on Jan. 3 by Dick Vitale on

HOME SWEET HOME: OSU finished the regular season 12-1 at Gill Coliseum (8-1 in Pac-10 play). The last time OSU posted a better conference record at home was in 1989-90 (9-0). The Beavers won their first seven home games overall, their best start at home since 1990-91, when they won their first nine. Overall at home, the Beavers are averaging 79.9 points, while opponents are averaging 69.9 points. OSU is shooting 48.7% from the field, 42.0% on three-pointers and 71.7% from the foul line in home contests. Opponents are at 44.3%, 29.9% and 67.9%, respectively.

ATTENDANCE UP: Beaver Nation is rediscovering the men's basketball program.The Beavers' average home attendance of 7,065 was the best mark since the 1992-93 season. OSU had five crowds of 9,000+ for the first time since 1991-92. OSU had back-to-back crowds of greater than 10,000 for the first time since January 1999.

PAC-10 ROAD WOES: The Beavers have lost 11 straight Pac-10 road games dating back to last year, and have only one win in the last 20 such games (at Washington State in 2004). The Beavers, 0-8 on the road in the Pac-10 this season, are averaging 64.0 points and shooting 39.7% from the field. The eight opponents have averaged 79.9 points and are shooting 48.3%. OSU has been outrebounded in six of the eight games, and the rebound margin for the eight games is -9.1. The Beavers have come close in three of the last five road games. At Stanford, ASU and UCLA, the Beavers had a one-point lead late in the game.

SWAT TEAM: Oregon State ranks #1 in the Pac-10 in blocked shots per game (4.0). The main cause of this has been Nick DeWitz, who is third in the conference in blocks with 2.05 per game. His 45 blocks are third in school single-season history. DeWitz has at least one block in 20 of the last 21 games (14 were multi-block games), with a career-high five at California. Also contributing are David Lucas (16 blocks), Kyle Jeffers (15) and Kenny Hooks (13).

FREE THROWS ARE GOOD: OSU has outshot the opponent at the free throw line in 21 of 28 games. Chris Stephens and David Lucas have excellent percentages at 85.9% and 83.3% respectively, but neither appears in the Pac-10 stats because Stephens doesn't have enough made free throws and Lucas hasn't played in enough games. Stephens had consecutive-made streaks of 22 and 15 this season. Jason Fontenet (82.9%) and Sasa Cuic (79.8%) are sixth and ninth in the Pac-10, respectively. Fontenet had consecutive-made streaks of 21 and 13. Cuic made 30 straight earlier this season to tie an OSU record. As a team, the Beavers are shooting 72.3% from the stripe, which is not far off the school record of 75.0% set in 1965-66.

THREE-POINTERS TOO: The three-point shot has also been a potent weapon this year. OSU is making 38.8% of its three-pointers, which ranks third in the Pac-10 and is on pace to be the second-best mark in school history. Nick DeWitz ranks #1 in percentage in the Pac-10, having made 53.8% (28-for-52) of his shots. If that mark keeps up, it'll also be #1 in school single-season history and #2 in Pac-10 single-season history. He doesn't have enough makes or attempts to qualify for the NCAA stats, however. He tied the school record and the Gill Coliseum record with seven three-pointers against California. DeWitz also set a school record for three-point percentage with a minimum of eight attempts when he went 7-for-9 (.778) against Cal. J.S. Nash also tied a school record for three-point percentage on five attempts when he went 5-for-5 against UCLA. Nash is making 42.9% of his three-pointers.

VICTORY INDICATORS: If OSU can make the following happen, it will probably mean a good result. The Beavers are 4-1 when the opponent shoots below 39.9% from the field ... 5-1 when shooting 80% or better from the foul line ... 8-1 when scoring 80 or more points ... 11-2 when having a better field goal percentage than the opponent ... 11-2 when outrebounding the opponent ... 12-3 when committing fewer turnovers than the opponent ... 13-3 when leading at the half.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE: OSU's 10-3 start after 13 games was its best since 1989-90, the last time the Beavers played in the NCAA Tournament ... OSU started 2-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time since 1992-93 ... OSU posted back-to-back home wins against Oregon for the first time since 1993 and 1994 ... OSU won its Pac-10 opener for the first time since 1994-95 ... OSU swept the Bay Area schools at home for the first time since 1994-95 ... OSU beat California for the first time since 1998 (14 straight losses) ... OSU swept the Los Angeles schools at Gill Coliseum for the first time since 1998-99 ... OSU beat Stanford for the first time since 1999 (11 straight losses) ... OSU's 22-point win over Arizona State was the largest margin of victory against a Pac-10 team since 2001-02 ... OSU's six-game winning streak was its best since early 2002-03.

EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES: OSU's depth has been very good this season, as the Beaver bench has outscored the opponents' reserves 19 of 28 times, with OSU posting an 11-8 record in those games. A total of 11 OSU players averaged at least 10 minutes of playing time in the non-conference season, although the bench has grown shorter in Pac-10 play, where only eight are averaging double-figure minutes. The depth has come in handy, as only three Beavers have appeared in all 28 games, and only four have appeared in at least 27 games. No player has started every game, and after the Senior Night game against California in which Lamar Hurd came off the bench, no player has started every Pac-10 game. OSU has utilized 14 different starting lineups, including nine different lineups in 17 Pac-10 games.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: In 13 of the 17 Pac-10 games, OSU has scored more points in the second half than the first. OSU has led at halftime in only seven of 17 Pac-10 contests (six were home games, and at UCLA). Of those 10 halftime deficits, OSU has come back to win three times (vs. UCLA, vs. USC, vs. WSU). All of this goes against a non-conference trend that saw nearly the opposite occur. The Beavers led at halftime nine of 11 times (but were outscored in the second half seven of 11 times).

BIG LEADS THAT DISAPPEAR: One area of concern is that the Beavers have taken a double-digit lead in 18 games, but have let the opponent back in by either giving up most of the lead, or the entire lead, 13 times. OSU won 10 of those 13 games, but surrendered a 15-point lead to Arizona and 13-point leads to both East Carolina and Georgia in losses.

INJURY UPDATE: Jim Hanchett underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Feb. 10. The procedure was successful. He suffered an initial injury during football season and it got progressively worse. The senior forward, a crowd favorite with his energetic play and tough post defense, appeared in 19 games and averaged 2.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 12.4 minutes ... Angelo Tsagarakis is already redshirting the season due to a shoulder injury.

COACH JOHN'S HEALTH: OSU Coach Jay John did not return to the sidelines after halftime of the Jan. 15 Washington game because he felt chest pains and a shortness of breath. He was taken to the UW Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with hypertension, which is basically an event of high blood pressure. He was released from the hospital a day later, but doctors ordered him to rest for a few days while further tests were conducted and his medication took hold. He missed the Jan. 20 Arizona State game, but returned two days later against Arizona. Through exercise, a new diet and blood pressure medication, he is expected to be fine.

A SHARP-DRESSED MAN: OSU assistant coach Brian Loyd is ranked #1 among the nation's assistant coaches on's 'FPI' -- the Fashion Power Index that rates the best-dressed coaches.

FREQUENT-FLYER MILES: It's believed that this is 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 (Raleigh, N.C., and Atlanta). 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 briefly 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 2005-06 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. Five Beavers are in the newly reformed ABA: Jimmie Haywood (Bellevue), Brian Jackson (Arkansas), Charles McKinney (Portland), Brandon Payton (Portland) and Deaundra Tanner (Utah). Jackson was recently named to the ABA All-Star Game.

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