GAME NOTES: Two teams in desperate need of a win square off on Thursday night, as the Washington State Cougars take on the Oregon State Beavers in a Pac-12 Conference clash at Gill Coliseum.
It has been difficult for Washington State to pick up wins this season, with the team owning a record of just 9-16 overall. The Cougars are currently riding a four-game losing streak, which has dropped them to 2-11 in league play, better than only USC. This contest begins a three-game road trip for WSU, with its next bout coming against Oregon.
Oregon State has been better this season, but not by much. The Beavers enter this game with an overall record of 13-11 and a league mark of 5-7. They have lost three straight contests, all on the road, as they begin this brief two- game homestand, which ends Saturday against Washington.
Roberto Nelson poured in 26 points to carry Oregon State to a 66-55 victory in Pullman when these teams met earlier this season. The Beavers have won three of the last five encounters with the Cougars, and lead the all-time series by a 166-123 margin.
As they have all season, the Cougars struggled to find their rhythm in a 69-56 loss to Stanford last time out. Washington State only connected on 31.4 percent of its total shots, while scoring a meager 12 points in the paint.
The reason for Washington State's issues in the conference standings is its inability to produce on offense. The Cougars are last in the Pac-12 in scoring (62.8 ppg), assists (10.6 apg) and field goal percentage (.409). They are also last in the league in rebounding (32.7 rpg). DaVonte Lacy (19.7 ppg) has handled the majority of the scoring, especially since returning from injury on Jan. 1. He tallied 13 points against Stanford, but he had scored at least 20 points in the three previous outings. Que Johnson (10.4 ppg) is shooting just 39.8 percent from the floor, but he is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster.
In its last contest, Oregon State faced rival Oregon and fell short in a 93-83 decision. The Beavers kept pace from the floor overall, shooting 51.7 percent to the Ducks' 53.4 percent, but they were outscored from 3-point range, 33-15.
Efficient shooting has been a real strength for Craig Robinson's group this season, as the Beavers are sinking 48.5 percent of their shots from the field, good enough for 16th nationally, although they rank third in the offensive rich Pac-12. Doing much of the heavy lifting is Roberto Nelson (21.2 ppg), who leads the conference in scoring. Nelson finished with 18 points against Oregon, and has now scored in double figures in 16 straight games. Devon Collier (13.7 ppg, 6 rpg) and Angus Brandt (12.5 ppg) supplement Nelson's efforts from their spots in the frontcourt.
Lacy can keep up with Nelson, making for an interesting duel in the backcourt. However, Lacy can't do it alone. The Beavers' superior depth and offensive efficiency should lead them to a relatively easy win.
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