Cougars Host Trojans at Friel Court
Feb. 9, 2008
WSU BEGINS SECOND ROUND OF PAC-10 PLAY: The Washington State men's basketball team (17-5, 5-5) looks to snap its three-game home losing streak as it welcomes USC (15-7, 6-4) to Friel Court, Saturday, Feb. 9 at 12:30 p.m. PST. Saturday's game will be shown live on ABC.
ABOUT THE COUGARS The Cougars are ranked 17th in the nation with a 17-5 record and are tied for fifth in the league at 5-5 in Pacific-10 Conference play. WSU boasts the third-best defense in the nation, allowing just 55.8 points per game. On the offensive end WSU ranks 18th in the nation with a .487 field goal percentage. Derrick Low leads the team with 13.5 points per game. He's joined in double-figure scoring by Kyle Weaver with 11.9 and Aron Baynes with 11.4 points per outing. Taylor Rochestie is adding 9.1 points per game, while leading the team and league with 5.1 assists a game. He's ranked second in the conference with a 3.0 assist/turnover ratio. Weaver is just two points shy of becoming the 29th Cougar to reach 1,000 points in his career.
ABOUT THE TROJANS USC enters Saturday's game after defeating Washington 73-59 Thursday. The Trojans are in third place in the conference at 6-4 in league play and 15-7 overall. After dropping their first three Pac-10 games of the season, the Trojans have won six of their last seven games, including an upset over then-No. 4 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion Jan. 19. Freshman O.J. Mayo is second in the conference and 31st in the nation with 20.5 points per game, 21.7 in league play. USC has four players averaging double-figures in the points column this season as Davon Jefferson, Dwight Lewis and Taj Gibson are adding 13.1, 10.8 and 10.3 points per outing, respectively. USC is 6-2 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. WSU followed that up with a loss to UCLA, for three-straight home losses. 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. A loss Saturday would mark the first time the Cougars have lost two-straight Pac-10 home series since 2002-03. WSU has swept four weekend series under Bennett (games against UW aren't counted). UCLA swept WSU for the second-straight season. Only two teams have swept the Pac-10 season series over the Cougars under Bennett (UCLA (twice) 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.
RECAPPING THE LOSS TO UCLA The Cougars drop to 13-93 all-time against UCLA and have lost eight-straight...WSU is 11-42 all-time at home against the Bruins. Coming in Cougars are 1-70 all-time vs. AP top five teams...3-65 versus top-25 Bruin teams...last win over a ranked UCLA team came March 7, 1983. Kyle Weaver passed Marcus Moore for third on the WSU career steals list with three...he now has 169. The last time WSU lost three-straight games came in 2003-04. The seniors, juniors and sophomores have beat every Pac-10 team with the exception of UCLA. Second-straight game the Cougars have been tied at halftime.
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 Saturday with 998 points, just two 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. Weaver has 998 points, 410 assists, 496 rebounds and 169 steals in his career. 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 eighth 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 53rd in the nation with 5.1 assists per game. Rochestie is second in the league and fifth in the nation with a 3.1 assists/turnover ratio (113 assists to 37 turnovers). Senior Kyle Weaver ranks fifth in the league with 4.4 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. The last senior class to defeat all Pac-10 schools came in 1989.
LOW IN THE CLUTCH Derrick Low is averaging 9.0 of his team-leading 13.5 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.
INSIDE PRESENCE 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 5.9 rebounds per game and ranks second with 19 blocks this season. He's controlled 19 of the 22 jump balls he's vied for this season. Baynes is averaging nearly nine points and four rebounds more this season than through 22 games last season (3.1 points, 2.5 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 9.1 points per game, he averaged just 2.3 points per game after 22 games last season. Rochestie is also up in assists (this year: 112; last year: 32), rebounds (this year: 3.0; last year: 0.7) and most notably, minutes played (this year: 33.0 mpg; last year: 12.6 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 43-13, 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 8,980 fans in their eight games thus far at Friel Court this season, ranking third amongst Pac-10 schools. WSU has played in front of 10,000 or more fans in seven of its 10 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 five 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 25th 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 ninth, seventh and 18th, respectively. The Pac-10 as a whole ranks second in the RPI.
THIRD APPEARANCE ON ABC IN 16 YEARS The Cougars will play live on ABC for the second time in three seasons, but just the third time in 16 years. WSU last played a game on ABC, Feb. 25, 2006; a 39-37 loss to Stanford at Friel Court.