Unique Position

Washington State finds itself in a unique position.

For the first time this season, the eighth-ranked Cougars try to bounce back from a loss when they host struggling Oregon State on Thursday night in a Pac-10 matchup.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Washington State -21 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Oregon State +21 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Off to its best start since 1916-17, Washington State (14-1, 2-1) fell four spots in the poll after losing 81-74 at then-No. 5 UCLA on Saturday.

Despite allowing their most points of the season, the Cougars shook off a poor first half by making seven 3-pointers in the final 1 1/2 minutes. Washington State went 13-for-21 from beyond the arc to tie a school record for 3s made, but didn't make its first field goal until 11:24 in the first half and trailed by 13 at the break.

Washington State also committed 13 turnovers after turning the ball over just 22 times in its previous three games.

"Once you get in a little hole against a team as high-caliber as them, it's going to be tough," said Cougars guard Derrick Low, who went 6-for-9 from 3-point range and scored all 24 of his points in the second half. "They're what a championship team is. That's how we want to play."

Cougars coach Tony Bennett hopes his team took something from the loss.

"I told guys, 'Nice flurry on the 3s, but don't lose the meaning of the message,'" said Bennett, whose team leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing 52.5 points per game. "When it was really game time, we couldn't hang in there. If we're not really clicking, we're so vulnerable.

"We've got to let those go and go on."

Bennett's squad shouldn't have much trouble putting the loss in the past when it faces Oregon State (6-10, 0-4) in its conference home opener, which will also be Washington State's first contest in Pullman since Dec. 28. The Cougars went 7-2 at home in the league last season and swept both games against the Beavers after losing three straight in the series.

Low, who averages a team-leading 13.5 points and needs three for 1,000 in his career, scored a combined 18 in the two wins over Oregon State last season and is averaging 8.2 points in five career games against the Beavers.

Forward Aron Baynes had 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Low added 10 points in the Cougars' 58-54 win at Oregon State on Feb. 24 in the teams' most recent meeting.

Though the Beavers lost 69-59 to California on Saturday for their sixth straight defeat, Bennett doesn't expect his team to look past them toward a matchup with Oregon (12-4, 3-1) on Sunday.

"Oregon State has struggled for victories, but they are very talented," Bennett said.

Marcel Jones scored 12 points and Seth Tarver added 11 on Saturday for the Beavers, who shot 32.9 percent. Oregon State is averaging just 55.3 points and shooting 34.3 percent in four league games.

"The talent defending us is better than our talent shooting the ball," said Beavers coach Jay John, whose team has lost six straight regular-season Pac-10 games.

Jones, who's averaging 12.5 points in four games against Washington State, had 16 in the teams' last meeting.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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