Cougars Begin Second Round of Pac-10 Play
Feb. 5, 2008
WSU BEGINS SECOND ROUND OF PAC-10 PLAY: The Washington State men's basketball team (17-4, 5-4) begins the second go-around in the Pacific-10 Conference as it hosts No. 5/4 UCLA (20-2, 8-1), Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and USC (14-7, 5-4), Saturday, Feb. 9 at 12:30 p.m. at Friel Court. Thursday's game can be seen on FSN, while Saturday's game will be shown on ABC.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
Washington State enters the weekend at 17-4 overall and tied for third in the Pacific-10 Conference at 5-4 in league play.
Ranked 17th in the nation, the Cougars are coming off their first two home losses of the season after falling to California (69-64) Thursday and Stanford (67-65, overtime) Saturday.
Leading the league and ranked third in the nation in points allowed per game at 55.2, WSU boasts three double-digit scorers on the offensive end.
Derrick Low paces the offense with 13.9 points per game.
Kyle Weaver and Aron Baynes are adding 11.9 and 11.4 points per game, respectively. Weaver and Baynes are the top-two rebounders on the team with 5.0 and 6.0 boards per game, respectively.
Point guard Taylor Rochestie is chipping in 9.2 points an outing while leading the league in assists with 5.2 dishes a game. His 3.21 assists/turnover ratio is the second-best in the conference and sixth in the nation.
The Cougars are 2-2 against ranked opponents this season and 0-1 at home.
ABOUT THE BRUINS Currently ranked fifth in the Associated Press Poll and fourth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, UCLA enters Thursday's matchup at 20-2 overall while leading the Pac-10 at 8-1 in league play.
The Bruins have won four straight, two on the road, since being upset by USC on their homecourt Jan. 19.
Freshman center Kevin Love leads the team and is seventh in the Pac-10 with 17.8 points per game, and adding 11.2 rebounds per game for an average of a double-double each game.
Three other Bruins are averaging double-digit points as Josh Shipp, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook are adding 14.5, 14.4 and 12.0 points per game, respectively.
Westbrook is second in the league with 5.0 assists per game.
The Bruins have not lost on the road so far this season at 5-0, 4-0 in Pac-10 action. They are 3-1 against ranked opponents thus far this season.
THE SERIES AGAINST UCLA
Washington State trails its series against UCLA, 13-92, and has dropped the last seven meetings, including the first between the two teams this season.
WSU hit seven-straight 3-pointers in the final two minutes, but couldn't pull out the win as it fell, 81-74 at Pauley Pavilion, Jan. 12 .
No member of this season's team has defeated the Bruins, as the last Cougar victory is also their lone victory on the road against the Bruins which came Feb. 5, 2004.
WSU is 11-41 all-time against UCLA at home.
Washington State has pulled off the L.A.-sweep just once in school history, under Dick Bennett Feb. 5 and 7, 2004.
ABOUT THE TROJANS
USC takes its 14-7 overall record and 5-4 league mark into Washington Thursday, before coming to the Palouse for Saturday's game.
After dropping their first three Pac-10 games of the season, The Trojans have won five of their last six games, including an upset over then-No. 4 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
Freshman O.J. Mayo is second in the conference and 31st in the nation with 20.1 points per game, 20.9 in league play.
USC has five players averaging double-figures in the points column this season as Davon Jefferson, Dwight Lewis, Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett adding 12.8, 10.9, 10.4 and 10.1 points per outing, respectively.
USC is 5-2 on the road this season, both losses suffered in league action, but haven't lost on the road since Jan. 5.
THE SERIES AGAINST USC
Saturday's meeting between the Cougars and Trojans is the 105th in the two schools' histories as USC holds a 64-40 advantage in the all-time series.
WSU holds a 26-22 record on its home court and has won four-straight games over USC at Friel Court.
The Cougars won the first meeting between the two teams this season, 73-58 at Los Angeles Jan. 10.
The Cougars swept the regular season series last year, including a thrilling, 88-86 double-overtime contest March 3 at Pullman, but fell to the Trojans, 70-61 in the Pac-10 Tournament six days later.
SWEEPS; LOSING AT HOME
With their two losses to California and Stanford last weekend, the Cougars were swept in a weekend Pacific-10 Conference series for the first time under second-year head coach Tony Bennett.
The last time the Cougars lost three-straight games at home came in Dick Bennett's first year as head coach, 2003-04. WSU fell to Oregon State (Feb. 12), Oregon (Feb. 14) and No. 1 Stanford (March 4) in consecutive home games.
The last time WSU lost two-straight Pac-10 home series came in 2002-03.
WSU has swept four weekend series under Bennett (games against UW aren't counted).
Only two teams have swept the Pac-10 season series over the Cougars under Bennett (UCLA and Oregon in 2006-07).
On the contrary, WSU swept six season series last year (Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon State, USC and Washington).
WSU had its seven-game home win streak snapped with its loss to California Thursday. It's previous loss came March 1, 2007.
AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
WSU is 1-69 all-time against opponents ranked in the AP top-5.
The Cougars' only win over a top-5 team came over No. 4 Oregon State Feb. 16, 1980.
This is the second-straight meeting between the two teams with UCLA as the No. 5 team in the nation.
The Cougars are 41-98 all-time against top-25 opponents, including 2-2 this season.
WSU is 34-19 when ranked in the top-25. The Cougars doubled their number or wins as a ranked team with 17 already this season.
When ranked and playing a ranked opponent, the Cougars are 5-8. Five of their eight losses came to ranked UCLA teams (two to Oregon, one to Stanford).
WSU is 3-64 against top-25 Bruin squads.
The last time the Cougars defeated a ranked UCLA team came March 7, 1983 at Pullman. (The Bruins were ranked No. 6)
THE 1,000-POINT MILESTONE
Senior Derrick Low became the 28th Cougar to score 1,000 career points just three points into WSU's win over Oregon State Jan. 17.
Kyle Weaver enters the weekend with 985 points, just 15 shy of 1,000 career points.
Weaver is on pace to become the 29th Cougar to reach the milestone. The last Cougar to reach the milestone prior to Low was Thomas Kelati (2002-05) who reached 1,081 points in Low and Weaver's freshmen season.
The last teammates to reach the milestone together were Terry Kelly and Don Collins in 1980.
Three Cougars have never reached 1,000 career points in the same season.
DISHING IT OUT
Despite ranking seventh in the Pac-10 in assists per game, the Cougars boast two of the top-five assists men in the league.
Junior Taylor Rochestie leads the league and ranks 44th in the nation with 5.2 assists per game.
Rochestie is second in the league and sixth in the nation with a 3.21 assists/turnover ratio (104 assists to 33 turnovers).
Senior Kyle Weaver ranks fifth in the league with 4.24 dishes per contest.
WHEN WEAVER AND LOW SCORE DOUBLE-DIGITS
WSU's game against Stanford marked the first time this season the Cougars have lost when both Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver score in double-figures.
The Cougars are 7-1 this season when each of the backcourt duo puts up 10 or more points in the same game.
UCLA ONLY TEAM LEFT ON THE LIST
The Cougars snapped a 13-game losing streak to Oregon with its 69-60 victory over the Ducks Jan. 20.
The win was the first over Oregon for head coach Tony Bennett.
It was also the first for all members of the team, including the seniors who have now defeated all Pac-10 teams with the exception of UCLA.
If the Cougars can get the win over UCLA, this year's senior class will become the first since 1989 to accomplish the feat of defeating all nine other Pac-10 schools in their career.
A win over UCLA would also allow this year's junior and sophomore classes to accomplish that feat.
LOW IN THE CLUTCH
Derrick Low is averaging 9.2 of his team-leading 13.9 points per game in the second half this season.
In the eight games WSU has trailed at the half, Low is averaging 17.4 points per game, over three points above his average.
He is averaging four 3-pointers per game in those contests.
Low is averaging 14.8 of those points in the second half. He is 29-for-42 (.690) from 3-point range in the second half when WSU trails at intermission.
WEAVER GETS PAST 19
In the 107th game of his WSU career, Kyle Weaver reached the 20-point plateau for the first time with 23 points against Stanford.
Weaver had scored in double-digits 49 times in his career prior to his 23-point performance.
His previous career high was 19 which he reached twice, including once this season.
In the same game, Weaver had his first double-double of the season and the fifth of his career. His 11 rebounds marked his first double-digit rebounding performance of the season.
Junior Aron Baynes, at 6-10, 270, has been an effective inside presence for the Cougars this season.
Baynes is third on the team with 11.4 points per game, leads the team with 6.0 rebounds per game and ranks second with 19 blocks this season.
He's controlled 18 of the 21 jump balls he's vied for this season.
Baynes is averaging nearly nine points and four rebounds more this season than through 21 games last season (3.0 points, 2.4 boards).
ROCHESTIE PICKING IT UP THIS SEASON AS WELL
Junior Taylor Rochestie's numbers have gone up tremendously this season compared to at this point last season.
Fourth on the team this season in scoring with 9.2 points per game, he averaged just 2.1 points per game after 21 games last season.
Rochestie is also up in assists (this year: 108; last year: 29), rebounds (this year: 3.0; last year: 14) and most notably, minutes played (this year: 32.7 mpg; last year: 10.7 mpg).
BENNETT REACHES 40TH CAREER VICTORY
WSU second-year head coach Tony Bennett reached his 40th career coaching victory as the team defeated USC Jan. 10.
Last season Bennett put in the 13th-best coaching debut in NCAA Division I history as the team went 26-8.
At 43-12, Bennett is just seven wins shy of 50 career wins, which would tie him for 10th in NCAA history for wins by a second-year head coach.
Bill Guthridge holds the record with a 58-14 mark in his first two seasons at North Carolina.
PLAYING IN FRONT OF FANS
The Cougars are averaging 8,909 fans in their eight games thus far at Friel Court this season, ranking fourth amongst Pac-10 schools.
WSU has played in front of 10,000 or more fans in seven of its nine Pac-10 games this season, including two games at Pullman.
Home attendance average is up nearly 3,000 fans than at this point last season.
Tickets for the general public are already sold out for five of WSU's final six home games (tickets remain for WSU's game against Arizona State Feb. 21).
LOW AND WEAVER MAKE MIDSEASON CUTS
Derrick Low is one of 30 collegiate men's basketball players to be named to the midseason John R. Wooden Award candidate list.
Kyle Weaver has been named to the Naismith Trophy midseason top-30 list.
COUGARS IN RPI
Washington State dropped to 20th in the latest RPI (Rating Percentage Index) standings released this week.
Arizona, UCLA and Stanford are the only Pac-10 schools ranked about the Cougs at seventh, 10th and 18th, respectively.
The Pac-10 as a whole ranks second in the RPI.