OSU Pregame Notes for Wednesday's NIT Game

March 14, 2005

Corvallis -

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UPCOMING: The Oregon State men's basketball team (17-14 overall, 8-10 Pacific-10 Conference, fifth place), having its best season in the last 15 years, has been selected to make its first National Invitation Tournament appearance since 1987 and its first postseason berth (other than the Pac-10 Tournament) since 1990. The Beavers will host Cal State Fullerton (19-10) in an NIT opening-round game on Wednesday (March 16) at 7 p.m. in Gill Coliseum.

OF HISTORICAL NOTE: The Beavers have clinched their first overall winning record since 1989-90 ... They also have their most wins since that season (22) ... The Beavers earned their most conference wins and had their best conference finish since 1992-93 (nine wins, tied for fifth place).

ON THE AIR: OSU's game against Cal State Fullerton can be heard live on the Beaver Radio Network (which includes 15 stations throughout the Northwest), with Mike Parker calling the action. Games can also be heard on the internet by Yahoo! Sports college broadcast subscribers by going to www.osubeavers.com and following the links.

NIT SCHEDULE: The OSU-Cal State Fullerton game is one of eight opening-round games being played this week. The winner moves on to the NIT's 32-team first round against either Denver or San Francisco. That game will probably be played on Friday at a yet-to-be determined site.

OSU'S NIT HISTORY: This is OSU's fourth appearance in the NIT, and the first since 1987. The Beavers have a 3-3 record in their previous three tournaments. Five of the six games were played in Gill Coliseum. They lost in the first round in 1979, then reached the third round in 1983 and the second round in 1987.

CAL STATE FULLERTON: The Titans tied for third place in the Big West Conference, then reached the semifinals of the Big West Tournament before losing to eventual champion Utah State. Like the Beavers, the Titans' last appearance in the NIT was in 1987 (coincidentally, both teams lost to California in that tournament). The Beavers and Titans did not have any common opponents this season. The two schools' only meeting was in the Beavers' season opener in 2000-01, a 68-35 OSU victory at Gill Coliseum.

TOURNAMENT OPPONENTS: OSU played four teams that made the NCAA Tournament (Washington, Arizona, Stanford and UCLA) and went 4-6 against those teams ... OSU played two teams that made the NIT (Arizona State and UNLV) and went 1-2 against those teams.

PAC-10 TOURNAMENT RECAP: OSU got a much-needed win away from Gill Coliseum with a first-round 79-72 victory over UCLA at the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles last Thursday. On Friday, top-seeded Arizona proved to be too much in a 90-59 loss. In the win against the Bruins, the Beavers built a 22-point first-half lead, then held on as UCLA closed to within four points in the second half. Chris Stephens led OSU with 17 points. It was OSU's first non-home victory since Dec. 21. The Beavers played a strong first half against the Wildcats and trailed by only five points at halftime, but Arizona outscored OSU 50-24 after the break. David Lucas had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

LUCAS' HONORS: David Lucas has earned All-Pac-10 first team honors for the second straight year. The last OSU player to earn two-time All-Pac-10 honors was Scott Haskin in 1992 and 1993. Lucas was honored as Pac-10 Player of the Week twice this season: on Jan. 3 after a sweep of the Los Angeles schools and on Feb. 14 after a sweep of the Washington schools. The last OSU player to earn the award twice in one season was Brent Barry in 1994-95. Lucas has three career honors, and he joins a select group of OSU players who have won the award three or more times: Gary Payton (nine), A.C. Green (four), Scott Haskin (three) and Jose Ortiz (three). Lucas has also been named to the 2004-05 NABC All-District 14 second team.

MORE ON LUCAS: As the Beavers try to close out the season in successful fashion, David Lucas is playing some of the best basketball of his OSU career. He needs just seven points to become OSU's 31st player to score 1,000 career points. In the last 12 games, Lucas has scored 20 or more points eight times. He led the Beavers (or tied for the lead) in scoring in 14 of 18 conference games. He's averaging 18.2 points overall (third in the Pac-10) and posted 19.1 points in the Pac-10 (good for third in conference games only). Lucas has posted OSU's only six double-doubles this season, and is averaging 6.9 rebounds (sixth in the Pac-10). His success has come despite missing the first 10 games of the season due to surgery on his right big toe. Even still, Lucas leads the Beavers in games with double-figure points (20), 20+ point games (10), games leading the team in scoring (15) and games leading the team in rebounding (13).

DeWITZ DELIVERS: If there's a list of the top Division I transfers from this past year, Nick DeWitz belongs on it. The former Iowa Hawkeye has been a true standout, averaging 13.8 points (12th in the Pac-10) and 5.5 rebounds (14th in the Pac-10). He is the winner of the Pac-10's Fred Hessler Award, given to the league's top non-freshman newcomer. DeWitz also earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors. His versatility shows in the fact that he's #2 in the Pac-10 in three-point percentage and #3 in blocked shots. If thunderous dunks were a statistic, he'd be doing well there too. Please see the paragraphs related to blocked shots and three-pointers that follow for some more of his notable accomplishments.

JOHN'S HONORS: OSU Coach Jay John was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year by collegeinsider.com ... Jay Bilas of espn.com named John a runner-up for his Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors ... Following OSU's sweep of the L.A. schools, John was named National Coach of the Week on Jan. 3 by Dick Vitale on espn.com.

HOME SWEET HOME: OSU finished the regular season 12-1 at Gill Coliseum (8-1 in Pac-10 play). The last time OSU posted a better conference record at home was in 1989-90 (9-0). The Beavers won their first seven home games overall, their best start at home since 1990-91, when they won their first nine. Overall at home, the Beavers are averaging 79.9 points, while opponents are averaging 69.9 points. OSU is shooting 48.7% from the field, 42.0% on three-pointers and 71.7% from the foul line in home contests. Opponents are at 44.3%, 29.9% and 67.9%, respectively.

ATTENDANCE UP: Beaver Nation is rediscovering the men's basketball program.The Beavers' average home attendance of 7,065 is the best mark since the 1992-93 season. OSU had five crowds of 9,000+ for the first time since 1991-92. OSU had back-to-back crowds of greater than 10,000 for the first time since January 1999.

PAC-10 ROAD WOES: Not including a neutral-site Pac-10 Tournament win against UCLA in Los Angeles, the Beavers have lost 12 straight Pac-10 road games dating back to last year, and have only one win in the last 21 such games (at Washington State in 2004). The Beavers finished 0-9 on the road in the Pac-10 this season. The last time that happened was in 1998-99.

SWAT TEAM: Oregon State ranks #1 in the Pac-10 in blocked shots per game (3.87). The main cause of this has been Nick DeWitz, who is #3 in the conference in blocks with 2.00 per game. His 50 blocks are third in school single-season history. DeWitz has at least one block in 23 of the last 24 games (15 were multi-block games), with a career-high five at California. Also contributing are David Lucas (16 blocks), Kyle Jeffers (16) and Kenny Hooks (13).

FREE THROWS ARE GOOD: OSU has posted a better free throw percentage than the opponent in 23 of 31 games. Chris Stephens (87.3%), Jason Fontenet (82.9%) and David Lucas (80.4%) are second, sixth and 10th in the Pac-10 respectively. Stephens had consecutive-made streaks of 22 and 15 this season, while Fontenet had consecutive-made streaks of 21 and 13. Sasa Cuic (79.6%) made 30 straight earlier this season to tie an OSU record. As a team, the Beavers are shooting 72.6% from the stripe, which is not far off the school record of 75.0% set in 1965-66.

THREE-POINTERS TOO: The three-point shot has also been a potent weapon this year. OSU is making 38.0% of its three-pointers, which ranks third in the Pac-10 and is on pace to be the second-best mark in school history. Nick DeWitz ranks #2 in percentage in the Pac-10, having made 51.6% (32-for-62) of his shots. He doesn't have enough makes or attempts to qualify for the NCAA stats, however. In the last nine games, he's 19-for-34 (55.9%) on three-pointers. He tied the school record and the Gill Coliseum record with seven three-pointers against California. DeWitz also set a school record for three-point percentage with a minimum of eight attempts when he went 7-for-9 (.778) against Cal. J.S. Nash also tied a school record for three-point percentage on five attempts when he went 5-for-5 against UCLA. Nash is making 41.0% of his three-pointers.

VICTORY INDICATORS: If OSU can make the following happen, it will probably mean a good result. The Beavers are 8-1 when scoring 80 or more points ... 5-1 when shooting 50% or better from the field ... 11-2 when outrebounding the opponent ... 8-2 when four or more players score in double-figures ... 14-3 when leading at the half ... 12-3 when committing fewer turnovers than the opponent ... 12-3 when having a better field goal percentage than the opponent.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE: OSU won a Pac-10 Tournament game for the first time since 1989 ... OSU's 10-3 start after 13 games was its best since 1989-90 ... OSU started 2-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time since 1992-93 ... OSU posted back-to-back home wins against Oregon for the first time since 1993 and 1994 ... OSU won its Pac-10 opener for the first time since 1994-95 ... OSU swept the Bay Area schools at home for the first time since 1994-95 ... OSU beat California for the first time since 1998 (14 straight losses) ... OSU swept the Los Angeles schools at Gill Coliseum for the first time since 1998-99 ... OSU beat Stanford for the first time since 1999 (11 straight losses) ... OSU's 22-point win over Arizona State was the largest margin of victory against a Pac-10 team since 2001-02 ... OSU's six-game winning streak was its best since early 2002-03.

EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES: OSU's depth has been very good this season, as the Beaver bench has outscored the opponents' reserves 21 of 31 times, with OSU posting a 12-9 record in those games. A total of 11 OSU players averaged at least 10 minutes of playing time in the non-conference season, although the bench grew shorter in Pac-10 play, where only eight averaged double-figure minutes. The depth has come in handy, as only three Beavers have appeared in all 31 games, and only four have appeared in at least 30 games. No player has started every game, and after the Senior Night game against California in which Lamar Hurd came off the bench, no player started every Pac-10 game. OSU has utilized 14 different starting lineups, including nine different lineups in the 18 Pac-10 games.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: At the Pac-10 Tournament, OSU averaged 40.0 points in the first half, 29.0 points in the second half ... But in 13 of the 18 Pac-10 games, OSU scored more points in the second half than the first. OSU led at halftime in only seven of 18 Pac-10 contests (six were home games, and at UCLA). Of those 11 halftime deficits, OSU came back to win three times (vs. UCLA, vs. USC, vs. WSU) ... The Pac-10 regular season went against a non-conference trend that saw nearly the opposite occur. The Beavers led at halftime nine of 11 times (but were outscored in the second half seven of 11 times).

BIG LEADS THAT DISAPPEAR: One area of concern is that the Beavers have taken a double-digit lead in 20 games, but have let the opponent back in by either giving up most of the lead, or the entire lead, 15 times. OSU won 11 of those 15 games, but surrendered a 15-point lead to Arizona, 13-point leads to both East Carolina and Georgia, and a 10-point lead to USC in losses.

INJURY UPDATE: Jim Hanchett underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Feb. 10. The procedure was successful. He suffered an initial injury during football season and it got progressively worse. The senior forward, a crowd favorite with his energetic play and tough post defense, appeared in 19 games and averaged 2.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 12.4 minutes ... Angelo Tsagarakis is already redshirting the season due to a shoulder injury.

COACH JOHN'S HEALTH: OSU Coach Jay John did not return to the sidelines after halftime of the Jan. 15 Washington game because he felt chest pains and a shortness of breath. He was taken to the UW Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with hypertension, which is basically an event of high blood pressure. He was released from the hospital a day later, but doctors ordered him to rest for a few days while further tests were conducted and his medication took hold. He missed the Jan. 20 Arizona State game, but returned two days later against Arizona. Through exercise, a new diet and blood pressure medication, he is expected to be fine.

A SHARP-DRESSED MAN: OSU assistant coach Brian Loyd is ranked #1 among the nation's assistant coaches on collegeinsider.com's 'FPI' -- the Fashion Power Index that rates the best-dressed coaches.

PAC-10 HALL OF HONOR: The Pacific-10 Conference inducted its fourth class into the league's Hall of Honor during a ceremony on March 9. Oregon State's honoree was Ed Lewis, a 1933 All-American who led the Beavers to the Pacific Coast title. Lewis was named the top player in the Pacific Northwest between 1900-1950 by the Oregon Journal. Previous OSU inductees are Gary Payton (2002), Slats Gill (2003) and Mel Counts (2004).

FREQUENT-FLYER MILES: It's believed that this is 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 (Raleigh, N.C., and Atlanta). 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 briefly 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 2005-06 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. Five Beavers are in the newly reformed ABA: Jimmie Haywood (Bellevue), Brian Jackson (Arkansas), Charles McKinney (Portland), Brandon Payton (Portland) and Deaundra Tanner (Utah). Jackson was named to the ABA All-Star Game.

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