Strong Play on The Road

Washington State's strong play on the road could prove beneficial in the final weeks of the regular season and beyond.

The 22nd-ranked Cougars look to bounce back from another disappointing home loss as they try for their fourth consecutive road win when they face California in a Pac-10 matchup Thursday night.

Washington State (21-6, 9-6) lost 65-55 to Arizona on Saturday to snap its four-game winning streak and fall to 4-4 at home in league play.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Washington State –3 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington State -3 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

The Cougars, though, have been a much better team on the road, going 9-2 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-10. Their two road losses came to then-No. 5 UCLA and Arizona in consecutive games last month.

Washington State's mediocre play at home is a big reason it's third in the Pac-10, 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Bruins, who have played one less conference game than the Cougars.

Their play on the road, though, should give the Cougars confidence as they look to avenge earlier losses to California (15-10, 6-8) and No. 8 Stanford in their final road swing of the season. More success away from home should help prepare Washington State for the upcoming Pac-10 tournament in Los Angeles and a likely trip to the NCAA tournament.

"We're not disappointed in the season, and that's the kind of picture we're looking at right now," said Cougars guard Taylor Rochestie, who had 14 points and seven rebounds against Arizona. "We're looking to the next game and we're playing two teams that beat us on our home court so we have a lot to look forward to."

Washington State will try to regroup after shooting a season-low 34.0 percent from the field and 5-for-22 from 3-point range versus Arizona.

The Cougars, the Pac-10's top defensive team yielding 55.5 points per contest, allowed the Wildcats to shoot 50.0 percent while giving up more than 57 points for the first time in five contests.

"If you don't bring your 'A' game in this league, you're going to get beat," said Washington State coach Tony Bennett, whose team allowed 51.8 points during the four-game winning streak. "It's too tight of ... too good of a league to not play at a high level - not that we don't understand that - we know that."

Rochestie proved to be one of the lone bright spots Saturday for the Cougars. The junior guard is averaging 10.4 points on the season and 16.4 in his last five contests.

He had 14 points, four assists and four rebounds when the then-No. 9 Cougars fell 69-64 at home to Cal on Jan. 31.

Washington State had trouble containing Cal sophomore Ryan Anderson, who had 27 points and nine rebounds in that contest. The 6-foot-10 Anderson is the Pac-10's leading scorer at 21.8 points per game and also averages 10.2 rebounds.

Anderson had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the Bears' 79-69 loss at Stanford on Sunday for his third straight double-double. Anderson is averaging 19.0 points and 8.6 rebounds in three games versus Washington State.

Cal, which has lost three of its last four, avoided a third straight defeat to the Cougars with last month's win. It was also the team's most recent victory over a ranked opponent.

"When they're playing well, they're awfully tough," Cal coach Ben Braun said of Washington State. "Even when they lose, you have to beat them. Washington State is a team that is going to come in and give you a game."

The Bears are 2-5 at home in the Pac-10 this season.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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