Men's Basketball Hosts Nationally Ranked USC and UCLA

Jan. 29, 2002

Corvallis, Ore. -

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THIS WEEK: Oregon State (10-9, 3-6 Pac-10) begins the second half of the Pac-10 Conference regular season Thurs., Jan. 31 hosting the No. 20 (ESPN/USA Today)/No. 23 (AP) University of Southern California Trojans (15-4, 7-2). The Beavers finish the week at home against the No. 13 (ESPN/USA Today & AP) UCLA Bruins (14-5, 6-3) Sat., Feb. 1. Both games are scheduled for Ralph Miller Court in Gill Coliseum.

RICCI EARNS PAC-10 HONOR: Junior forward Philip Ricci earned this week's Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Week honor after leading OSU to road victories over Washington and Washington State. Ricci averaged 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and shot .519 (14-27) from the field for the week. In addition, he was 8 of 9 from the free throw line, had eight assists, three blocked shots, and five steals. Ricci is the first OSU player to earn the weekly conference honor since Deaundra Tanner Jan. 11, 1999.

YOUTH OF THE NATION: A survey of the nation's top eight conferences (Southeastern, Pac-10, Atlantic Coast, Big VII, Big Ten, Big East, Mtn. West, and Conf. USA) according to the latest Sagarin Power Ratings poll, Oregon State is eighth among the 90 schools for minutes played per game by its freshmen. The Beaver freshmen are averaging 73.8 minutes per contest. Arizona leads the pack at 110.8, followed by Colorado State (86.7), Michigan State (85.2), North Carolina State (83.2), Iowa (78.3), Wisconsin (75.1), and Auburn (74.6).

YOUTH OF THE NATION II: Oregon State enters this week second in the Pac-10 Conference for the number of minutes its freshmen (includes redshirts) are playing per game. Here is a look at the conference breakdown -- Arizona (110.8), OSU (73.8), Washington (64.9), UCLA (57.0), Stanford (56.6), California (54.4), USC (54.1), Washington State (29.1), Arizona State (20.4), and Oregon (0).

AIMING FOR THREE STRAIGHT: A victory Thursday would give Oregon State its first three-game Pac-10 Conference winning streak since the 1999 season when the program defeated Arizona State, Arizona (No. 9), and Oregon at Gill Coliseum. The Beavers haven't won four straight league games since a five-game streak to open the 1993 league slate.

MISTAKES AT A MINIMUM: Oregon State is coming off one of best stretches for turnovers, committing just 19 in the two-game Washington swing. The Beavers are averaging 13.9 per game, a mark that would be the second-lowest for one season since 1990 -- last year's team, under first-year head coach Ritchie McKay, averaged 12.7.

I'LL TAKE THAT: Oregon State has 31 steals over its last five games, including eight vs. Stanford, and seven against California and Oregon. The 31 total is 39 percent of the team's entire sum for the year.

ANOTHER POSITIVE SIGN: Oregon State has won four road games this season (UW, WSU, Portland State, UA-Anchorage) -- the most since 1998 (Cal, ASU, UC Irvine, UH-Hilo).

LEARNING HOW TO WIN: Oregon State continues its rather impressive streak of leads in games. The team has led in 18 of the 19 games this season, and in the second half of 17 of those contests.

SHOOTING IMPROVES ON THE ROAD: Oregon State broke out of a mini shooting slump in last week's games at the Washington schools, hitting .505 (53-105) from the field for the two contests. The improvement came after the team shot .374 in the combined previous three games. The Beavers enter this week's action third in the Pac-10 for field goal percentage at .469. The team has shot .500 or better from the field seven times this season.

TOUGH STRETCH: Oregon State is in the midst of its toughest stretch of games this season, playing five of seven on the road. Thursday's tilt vs. USC marks another difficult run of playing four of five games against nationally ranked opponents (USC, UCLA, @ Stanford, @ Oregon).

FAVORABLE NUMBERS: This week is generally considered the halfway mark of the Pac-10 Conference regular season, even though the Bay Area schools have played just eight games and the Washington schools 10. Here is a comparison of where OSU ranks statistically for conference statistics as compared to past seasons league stats at the midway point:

			2002	        2001		2000 		1999		1998Scoring Offense		64.0 (10th)	55.3 (10th)	70.9 (8th)	62.2 (10th)	64.7 (10th)	Scoring Defense	67.7 (2nd)	70.8 (5th)	69.1 (6th)	62.7 (2nd)	75.6 (3rd)Field Goal Percentage	.462 (4th)	.401 (8th)	.453 (6th)	.446 (5th)	.404 (10th)FG Percentage Defense	.426 (4th)	.489 (10th)	.426 (4th)	.378 (1st)	.586 (9th)3-Pt. FG Percentage	.421 (2nd)	.288 (8th)	.364 (4th)	.348 (5th)	.288 (10th)

INCREASED INSIDE SCORING: Oregon State enters the game with 27 percent of its field goals coming from three-point range, compared to 34 percent last year, and 29 percent in 2000.

1,500 MILESTONE: Oregon State earned its 1,500 NCAA recognized men's basketball victory in the New Year's Eve Day triumph over Lehigh. UCLA has 1,503 victories entering the week, followed by OSU (1,502). The rest of the conference stands at Washington (1,431), Arizona (1,399), Washington State (1,343), USC (1,329), Oregon (1,280), California (1,261), Stanford (1,183), and Arizona State (1,053).

FREE THROW PERCENTAGE INCREASES UNDER McKAY: Oregon State enters this week third in the Pac-10 Conference for free throw percentage at .725. The team shot .727 last year in Ritchie McKay's first year, marking the highest percentage since 1992 (.729). Oregon State has shot .720-plus from the line for the season only 10 times since 1954.

LONG RANGE ACCURACY: Oregon State is third in the Pac-10 for three-point field goal percentage entering this week at .376. If that percentage holds through the year it would be the highest since the 1989 season (.380).

RETURN TO SENDER: Oregon State has rejected a modest 52 shots (8th in Pac-10) this season, six more than all of last season.

DEFENSIVE DATA: Oregon State enters this week second in the Pac-10 for scoring defense allowing 64.5 points per game. The Beavers have held Portland State (46 pts), San Diego (56), Arizona State (57), and IPFW (59) to those program's lowest point total of the season entering this week. OSU is also fifth for field goal percentage defense at .414.

JUST PLAIN '2': Senior guard Brandon Payton will wear jersey number '2' for the remainder of the season. Payton wore '02' the first six games in honor of his brother Gary Payton (#20), but the number has been declared ineligible by the NCAA (Sect. 5, Art. 12).

DOUBLE-DOUBLE CLUB: Junior forward Philip Ricci has recorded four double-doubles this season, and teammate Brian Jackson has one. Ricci is the first Beaver to have more than two in one season since Mustapha Hoff achieved seven in 1995.

Philip Ricci, 15 pts, 10 reb. vs. TexasPhilip Ricci, 17 points, 11 reb. vs. San DiegoPhilip Ricci, 23 pts, 10 reb at Cal PolyPhilip Ricci, 24 pts, 11 reb vs. IPFWBrian Jackson, 16 pts, 10 reb. at WSU

A FULL BENCH: Head coach Ritchie McKay has many options this year when he turns to his bench, unlike last season. He has 14 'active' players for most games. McKay didn't have a game where he had more than nine available players in 2000-2001, and at times during the year had only seven.

STARTING STREAK: OSU senior Adam Masten enters Thursday's game with 49 consecutive starts. Brian Jackson has a streak of 48 starts in games that he has played -- he missed the Jan. 4 game at Arizona State (concussion). For Jackson, he has started 94 percent (68 of 72) of his career college appearances.

OSU VS. USC: The Trojans own a narrow 52-51 advantage. Oregon State snapped USC's four-game win streak in the series with a 67-52 upset at Gill Coliseum Feb. 22 of last season. Brian Jackson scored a Pac-10 career-high 22 points to lead the Beavers. USC shot just .302 from the field -- Brandon Granville led the team in scoring with 16 points. USC posted a 73-47 victory at the Sports Arena (Jan. 27) last year with Brian Scalabrine scoring 16 points.

OSU VS. UCLA: UCLA leads 70-30 and has won five straight. The then No. 15 Bruins defeated the Beavers 68-65 in overtime at Gill Coliseum last season. Oregon State had a 32-24 halftime lead and equaled the eight point advantage with 8:18 left before UCLA rallied to tie the game and eventually take the lead three times in the last 2:50. Brian Jackson made one of two free throws with 19 seconds left to force overtime. Oregon State never led in the extra period. Earl Watson paced UCLA with 20 points with Billy Knight adding 16 and Dan Gadzuric 15. Jason Heide led OSU with 19 points, with Jackson adding 16 and Jimmie Haywood 14. UCLA won at Pauley Pavilion last year 67-40.

HOOPS RECRUITS ADDED: Ritchie McKay and his staff signed three athletes to national letters of intent during the early signing period. Joining the program for the 2002-2003 season are Kerbrell Brown (6-7, F) from Dodge City Community College in Kansas, Kevin Field (6-10, C) from Wilson High School in Tacoma, Wash., and Justin Holt (6-6, F) from Lincoln High School in Tacoma. The program has one remaining scholarship to offer during the late signing period April 10-May 15. A quick glance at the projected roster for next year (as of Nov. 15) includes four seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores, and two freshmen. The program has one scholarship available for the late signing period (April 10-May 15).

HEAD COACH RITCHIE McKAY: Ritchie McKay is in his second year at Oregon State, and is in his sixth overall as a head coach. McKay's record stands at 81-81, which includes an injury riddled 2001 season at OSU (10-20) and the first year of college basketball in 15 years at Portland State University (9-17). McKay spent two years at PSU and finished with a record of 24-29, then led Colorado State University for two of the program's most successful years ever, leaving with a mark of 37-23.

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