Washington St. (10-9, 1-5) at Oregon St. (11-8, 1-5) / Gill Coliseum / 2 PM PST / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. hosts Washington St. to wrap up the first northwest cross-state weekend of the season, in a game that could be a swing game for both squads as far as salvaging their season, or seeing it slide deeply into the depths of the Pac-12 standings. With Utah, the Beavers and Cougars are tied for 10th-12th in the conference race. And though they are 5+ games behind league leading Oregon (+ because the Ducks have the tie-breaker too). But all 3 are only 3 games out of a first day bye in the Pac-12 tournament.
For Oregon St., with a trip to the Bay Area coming up next week, and a pair of teams in Stanford and California that are also far from playing dominating basketball, a win today sets up an attainable goal of a 4 game win streak. But from a NW basketball standpoint, its also another episode in the long rivalry between the states' 2 "State" schools.
The Beavers and the Cougars lack the glitz of games against Oregon or Washington, and also the sheer numbers of historic games (last year's 4 meetings not withstanding); its only the FOURTH most played series in NCAA basketball history, behind Oregon-Oregon St., Oregon-Washington, and Oregon St. Washington. Oregon St. holds a 164-122 edge, and the Beavers are 53-19 against the Cougs in Gill Coliseum.
But the schools have a lot in common beyond their land grant status, and seem to be as unpredictable as any when it comes to how any given game may go.
Last season, the Cougars took 3 of 4 games against the Beavers, sweeping the regular season series, but dropping their meeting in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Then, Washington St. ousted Oregon St. from the CBI Tournament in the semi-finals.
The Cougars clawed out an 81-76 New Year's eve win in Spokane behind a strong start and finish to the game by Brock Motum, who has repeatedly proven to be a matchup problem for the Beavers. Washington St. also won the rematch in Corvallis, using a 17-3 run right before halftime to build a big lead the Cougs were able to ride all the way to an 83-73 win, and in spite of a 33 point night by Jared Cunningham. Motum was a major problem again, piling up 24 points.
The Beavers turned the table in the Pac-12 Tournament, where an early 13-0 run and a late 11-1 one produced a 69-64 Oregon St. win. Both teams rolled deep into the CBI Tournament, but it was the Cougars that advanced to the finals. And it was quite a surprise, given that Motum suffered a sprained ankle after scoring 4 quick points, yet the Cougs still blew the Beavers out, winning 72-55.
Washington St. comes into today's game on a 2 game losing streak, and have lost 5 of their last 6 games, similar to what Oregon St. was dealing with until their 74-66 Wednesday night win over Washington, which snapped a 5 game losing streak, and hopefully ended a slump that saw the Beavers lose 6 of 7 games.
Washington St. led the way in the first half of the early game Wednesday, and used a 7-0 run to open a 10 point halftime lead. But the Cougs Couged away that lead, and Pac-12 leading 16th ranked Oregon pulled away to a 68-61 win.
Mike Ladd led Washington St., with 19 points, most of them in the first half, and Motum, the Cougars' leading scorer added 14, nearly 5 points below his 18.8 average.
The Beavers had 5 players finish in double figures in the win over the Huskies, led by Devon Collier, with 16, and Roberto Nelson, Oregon St.'s leading scorer for the season, was right behind, with 15.
The Cougars are lacking of a major inside presence in support of D.J. Shelton, who is the nephew of Oregon St. great Lonnie Shelton, and lack depth, especially after guard Reggie Moore left both the Washington St. team and the university during the off season. As a result, the Cougars often struggle to put 4 quarters of quality basketball together game after game.
But Washington St. is the type of team no one wants to play, as their starting 5, which includes DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge in addition to Motum, Ladd, and Shelton, can give any team more than they want on any given night.
Similarly, the Beavers reigned in the minutes for their second unit in the win over Washington, with Nelson, Collier, Eric Moreland, Joe Burton, and Ahmad Starks getting by far most of the minutes.
Moreland will be looking to swat a shot, and the next one will move him into sole possession of second place on the Oregon St. career blocked shot list.
The game starts another Northwest doubleheader on the Pac-12 channel, with Washington visiting Oregon immediately afterwards.
By dinner time we should know a lot more about the lot for all 4 northwest teams. Its time for the Beavers to take control of their own fate.