Pac-10 Conference Play Opens at UCLA Friday

Dec. 30, 2003

Corvallis, Ore. -

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THEME: Pacific-10 Conference play opens this week for all league members, with Oregon State traveling to Los Angeles to face UCLA (Jan. 2) and USC (Jan. 4). This is the first time Oregon State has opened conference play in Los Angeles since the 1994 season. OSU enters Friday's game trying to extend its two-game winning streak. Both games are televised, but neither will air in the state of Oregon. Fox West 2 will broadcast the games live in Southern California.

PAC-10 OPENERS: Oregon State has lost eight consecutive Pac-10 openers, dating back to a 90-89 overtime victory over USC Jan. 5, 1995. The Beavers last victory to open the league slate on the road was Jan. 7, 1993 at Stanford.

SERIES: Pac-10 Conference records show UCLA with a 72-30 lead in the series. The two programs split last year with each winning on the opponents' court. OSU snapped a 14-game losing streak at Pauley Pavilion with a 83-79 win. Former Beaver Philip Ricci had 26 points and 14 rebounds to lead all players, while UCLA was paced by Jason Kapono (18 pts). UCLA evened the score with a 69-66 win at Gill Coliseum, in a victory that later proved beneficial to the Bruins' qualifying for the Pac-10 Tournament. Of the 10 starters in the last meeting (Feb. 27), only OSU's Lamar Hurd and UCLA's Dijon Thompson are expected to start this game.

THE 'START' OF SOMETHING: Entering Friday's contest, Oregon State's eligible players have combined for 103 career Division I starts -- the lowest number in the Pac-10 Conference. Counting games through Dec. 30, the rest of the league shapes up with UCLA (142), California (148), Arizona State (152), Oregon (153), Arizona (170), Washington (181), Stanford (207), Washington State (221), and USC (273).

YOUTHFUL LOOK: Three true-freshmen have played this season, with the trio combining for 10 starts. Oregon State is one of only six schools in the nation without a senior on its roster, joining Pepperdine, Wake Forest, Tennessee, UNC-Asheville, and Harvard.

CREDIT THE DEFENSE: Oregon State has forced an average of 20.5 turnovers per game through 10 contests, while averaging 15.0 -- a Pac-10 Conference leading plus 5.5. The last time OSU forced its opponents into a 20-plus average per game ratio was the 1979-80 season (20.0). The Beaver defense forced 13.8 last season, 12.5 in 2002, and 13.2 in 2001. On the other hand, UCLA is last in the conference at minus-2.6.

WELL WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: Six overtime periods in 10 regular season games, plus another during the exhibition slate. The Beavers have played a single overtime game (at Hawaii), double overtime (vs. Portland), and triple overtime (vs. Kansas State). The three games that have gone to extra periods are the most since the 1990-91 team played extra stanzas against New Orleans, UCLA, and Washington State. The total of six overtime periods is a school record, eclipsing the five played by the 1982-83 club. For future reference, the last time Oregon State played in four overtime games was during the 1985-86 season. Oregon State, Maryland, USC, Santa Clara, and Duquesne share the honor for most Division I overtime games this season with three -- through games of Dec. 28.

DON'T COUNT US OUT: Oregon State has shown some maturity in recent games by overcoming double figure deficits to give itself a chance for victory. Here is a closer look:

	Down 49-37 vs. Sac. State -- OSU takes the lead 63-62 (26-13 run)	Down 22-10 vs. Boise State -- OSU takes the lead 23-22 (13-0 run)	Down 59-49 vs. Boise State -- OSU takes the lead 60-59 (11-0 run)	Down 10-0 at Hawaii -- OSU ties the game 16-16 (16-6 run)

HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS: Even with team's struggles shooting, OSU is still averaging 15.8 assists per game. The Beavers are actually on pace for 442 total assists, a mark that would be the second-highest since the 1992 team had 549. The last three seasons the Beavers have averaged 13.6 (2003), 13.8 (2002), and 13.3 (2001).

INDIVIDUAL IMPROVEMENT: Oregon State's returning players have generally increased their production from one year ago when former Beavers Philip Ricci, Brian Jackson, and Jimmie Haywood were a featured trio. Here is a closer look:

	                      Pts P/G (2003-04)	Pts P/G (2002-2003)	Difference	Chris Stephens	        15.4		2.3			+13.1	David Lucas		15.2		0.0			+15.2	        J.S. Nash		10.7		4.7			+6.0	Lamar Hurd		5.4		6.2			+0.8

FG Pct.(2003-04) FG Pct. (2002-2003) Difference Chris Stephens .403 .333 +7.0% David Lucas .489 .000 +48.9% J.S. Nash .416/(4.4 ast) .304/(2.9 ast) +11.2%/(+1.5 ast) Lamar Hurd .393 .349 +4.4%

QUICK HANDS: Through 10 games last season, Oregon State had 53 steals -- compared to 79 this season against better competition. The Beavers rank third in the Pac-10 with a 7.9 per game average.

SHOOTER! SHOOTER! A common exclamation coming from coaches during games when a known shooting threat has the ball; maybe that should be the cry every time a Beaver has possession. Nine of OSU's 12 eligible players have attempted at least one three-point field goal, only Kyle Jeffers, Michael Johnson, and Derek Potter have failed to attempt a three, and only Potter is not a realistic threat from that range.

HOME TEAM: Oregon State's 17 regular season home dates are the most in the program's modern history. The team made only two non-conference road trips this season, Dec. 1 at Colorado and Dec. 15 at Hawai'i.

TEAM CAPTAINS: Junior guard J.S. Nash and sophomore guard Lamar Hurd have been elected team captains for this season.

MAJOR MINUTES: Oregon State players haven't had too much to complain about regarding 'their' minutes. Eight players are averaging in double figures, with three averaging 33-plus. Point guard Lamar Hurd, who led the team last year for minutes played at 33.4, is playing 35.6 per game -- that does include a 45-minute double-overtime stint vs. Portland and a 43-minute effort vs. Kansas State. Guard J.S. Nash, who entered the year averaging 21.6 minutes for his 55-game career, is up to 34.1 for the season, which includes 46 vs. KSU. Chris Stephens played a total of 274 minutes last season, and has already eclipsed that total -- he is averaging 32.5. One year ago as of Jan. 2, David Lucas had played a total of 32 minutes for his career -- this year alone he has played 272.

HOOPS REUNION SCHEDULED: In what has become an annual event at Oregon State University, the Athletic Department will hold a men's basketball reunion Sat., Jan. 17 for roster members from teams from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Those three decades produced 10 conference championships, one NCAA Final Four appearance (1949), 13 All-American selections, 16 All-Pacific-Coast Conference picks, and 22 All-Northern Division honors. Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member Amory 'Slats' Gill was the head coach of the program for that entire tenure.

HUGHES TO REDSHIRT: Freshman center Liam Hughes will redshirt this season. The 7-2, 306-pound center from Hullbridge, England is in his third year of organized basketball. Junior guard Jason Fontenet will also redshirt after transferring from New Mexico State.

THE MURAL OF THE STORY: A quick peek to the south rafters in Gill Coliseum will present you a look at a mural of some of the Oregon State University men's basketball greats. The recently completed mural includes the 1980-81 team, plus individuals Ralph Miller, Paul Valenti, Slats Gill, Steve Johnson, Charlie Sitton, Gary Payton, Lester Conner, Brent Barry, Scott Haskin, Wally Palmberg, Ed Lewis, Cliff Crandall, Mel Counts, Dave Gambee, Jose Ortiz, Jim Jarvis, A.C. Green, Charlie White, and Red Rocha.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: The Oregon State coaching staff signed one prospect to a national letter of intent during the November period. Joining the Beavers next season will be Marcel Jones from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. The 6-7 guard averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds last season for the California Interscholastic Federation champions.

BEAVERS IN THE NBA: Currently three former Beavers are residing in the National Basketball Association. NBA all-star Gary Payton is in his 14th year in the league and first with the Los Angeles Lakers. Brent Barry is in his ninth year in the league and fifth with the Seattle Sonics. Lester Conner is in his fifth year as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics, after a lengthy pro career. A total of 26 former Beavers have played in the NBA.

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