Beavers Host USC Looking for 2-0 Start

Jan. 1, 2005

Corvallis -

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UPCOMING: The Oregon State men's basketball team (9-3 overall, 1-0 Pacific-10 Conference) has accomplished something that no Beaver team has done since 1994-95 -- win its Pac-10 opener. Now, OSU will try to move to 2-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time since 1992-93 with a matchup against USC (7-5, 0-1) on Sunday (Jan. 2) at 2:05 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. Additionally, the Beavers have won five straight games, the first time that's happened since early in the 2002-03 season. The Beavers are also looking for their first home sweep of the Los Angeles schools since 1998-99.

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. It 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 53-56 all-time against USC. The Trojans won both meetings last year, including a 63-60 win at Gill Coliseum in OSU's season finale. Chris Stephens scored 22 points for the Beavers in that game. OSU has won three of the last seven meetings, including a 2-2 mark in the last four games at Gill Coliseum.

LOOKING BACK: Oregon State defeated UCLA, 85-80, on New Year's Eve (Friday, Dec. 31), as the Beavers won their first Pac-10 opener since 1994-95 (1/5/95 at home vs. USC, 90-89 in overtime). It's also the first time that OSU has beaten UCLA two consecutive times since 1989-90 and 1990-91 (both of those games were also at Gill Coliseum). David Lucas, in only his second game back from injury, had a team-high 21 points off the bench. J.S. Nash scored 20 points and tied a school record for three-point field-goal percentage when he went 5-for-5 from beyond the arc. After trailing by five at halftime, 42-37, OSU scored 48 second-half points and led by as many as 14. The Beavers had season bests for three-pointers made (10), assists (19), steals (10, tied) and fewest turnovers (10).

INJURY UPDATES: Derek Potter suffered a sprained ankle in practice on Dec. 26 and will likely be out 7-10 days ... Angelo Tsagarakis has been practicing since early December, though he's not quite ready to play. He had surgery on a dislocated shoulder in September.

SO CLOSE: The Beavers are six points away from having an 11-1 overall record (OSU has suffered two two-point losses).

NINE-FOR-TWELVE: Over the past 15 seasons, a 9-3 record matches the best mark that OSU has put together after 12 games. The Beavers were also 9-3 in 1997-98. Those are the best starts since a 10-2 record in 1989-90.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Beavers are 5-0 at Gill Coliseum, their best start at home since 1999-2000 (when they won their first six home games). The Beavers are averaging 80.8 points, while opponents are averaging 69.0 points. OSU is shooting 46.4% from the field, 41.4% on three-pointers and 74.6% from the foul line in home contests.

BENCH SCORING IMPRESSIVE: OSU's depth has been very good this season and may be among the best in the Pac-10 Conference. The Beaver bench has outscored the opponents' bench eight times, with OSU posting a 7-1 record in those games. The Beaver bench is averaging 26.7 points per game, with a season high of 44 points against Sacramento State. A total of 11 OSU players are averaging at least 12.6 minutes per game of playing time.

FREE THROWS ARE GOOD: Several free throw shooters have had impressive streaks this season, and have hit for an excellent percentage. Sasa Cuic made 30 consecutive free throws earlier this season to tie an OSU record, and he is now 54 of 63 (.857). Chris Stephens had a streak of 22 straight free throws made. He was leading the Pac-10 in free throw percentage earlier this season and is now 37-for-41 (.902) in 2004-05. Jason Fontenet has made 27 of 34 attempts (.794), including a streak of 13 straight at one point. Of Cuic's 160 total points this season, 31.8% have come from the free throw line. As a team, the Beavers are shooting 73.2% from the stripe, which is not far off the school record of 75.0% set in 1965-66.

THREE-POINTERS TOO: The Beavers are also faring well from beyond the three-point line. OSU players have hit on 38.2% (71-for-186) from beyond the arc. The school record is 40.6% (97-for-239) in 1987-88 -- the second year of the three-point shot. J.S. Nash (17-for-31, .548), Marcel Jones (8-for-20, .400) and Jason Fontenet (14-for-35, .400) have been the most accurate long-range shooters. Nash tied a school record against UCLA for three-point field-goal percentage when he went 5-for-5 (Deaundra Tanner did the same against USC in 1999).

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: In nearly every game, the Beavers have come out ready to play at tip-off. OSU is averaging 36.3 points in the first half to the opponents' 28.3, and has led at halftime in nine of 12 games. But, second halves were an entirely different matter, particularly in non-conference play. After the break, OSU is averaging exactly the same at 37.3 points, but opponents are averaging 40.3 points, and the opponents have scored more second-half points in seven of 12 games. However, OSU has outscored the opponent in the second half of each of the last two games (Sacramento State and UCLA), which has coincided with the return of David Lucas.

BIG LEADS THAT DISAPPEAR: The Beavers have taken a double-digit lead in 11 of the first 12 games -- but have either given it up partly, or entirely, 10 times. Here are the details:• Siena: led by 14 in the first half, then trailed by nine in the second half before winning by two... • East Carolina: led by 13 in the first half, but suffered a two-point loss... • Elon: led by 14 in the second half, then had the lead cut to three points before winning by 10... • Portland: led by 19 in the second half, then had the lead cut to two points before winning by three... • Colorado: led by 16 in the first half, then trailed by two in the second half before winning by 11... • Georgia: led by 13 in the first half, but suffered a two-point overtime loss... • Bethune-Cookman: led by 20 in the second half, then had the lead cut to five points before winning by 13... • Boise State: led by 17 in the second half, then had the lead cut to five points before winning by 11... • Prairie View A&M: led by 17 in the second half, then had the lead cut to one point before winning by four... • UCLA: led by 14 in the second half, then had the lead cut to three points before winning by five.

DOWN TO THE LAST SECOND: Four of the first seven games were decided by three points or less, keeping with a theme that the program had during last year's pre-Pac-10 action in which six of the nine games were decided by five points or less or in overtime (2OT and 3OT as well). Here's a closer look at this year:• Siena (W 69-67): Sasa Cuic completes a conventional three-point play with four seconds remaining. Siena's Kojo Mensah narrowly misses a three-point attempt at the buzzer... • East Carolina (L 62-64): Chris Stephens and Sasa Cuic miss three-point attempts in the last three seconds... • Portland (W 66-63): Kenny Hooks blocks a Darren Cooper three-point attempt at the buzzer... • Georgia (L 74-76 OT):In regulation, Chris Stephens hits a jumper with six seconds left to give OSU a two-point lead, but Georgia sends the game into overtime on a shot at the buzzer. With 1.6 seconds left in overtime, J.S. Nash throws a perfect length-of-the-court pass to Nick DeWitz, but his hurried, under-pressure lay-up attempt just misses.

FREQUENT-FLYER MILES: Oregon State made two trips to the Eastern time zone, with appearances at the Black Coaches Invitational in Raleigh, N.C., and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for Kids in Atlanta. It's believed to be 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. 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 for a short time 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 2005-2006 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.

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