OSU looks to maintain momentum

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Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 8:46 pm

After Civil War win, Oregon State heads to Pullman, Wash., to take on Washington State

Heading north to Pullman, Wash., the Oregon State men’s basketball squad has a chance to reach the .500 conference mark, a situation that seemed unlikely just this past weekend when the Beavers took a 1-3 Pac-12 mark into a contest with an Oregon team that had been ranked as high as No. 10 this season.

But OSU (10-7, 2-3 Pac-12) prevailed Sunday in the Civil War showdown and now will face Washington State (8-10, 1-5) Wednesday, a team playing without its leading scorer, DaVonte Lacy.

The junior guard is out with a rib injury, which will keep him and his 17.7 points per game on the bench against Oregon State.

OSU head coach Craig Robinson is wary of what Lacy’s injury could mean for the Cougars.

“I’m always nervous when things like that happen because other guys have the opportunity to feel free to step up with little pressure on them,” he said. “It can have the reverse effect that you would intuitively think it would have and it can pump up the rest of the guys.” 

Robinson particularly noted Que Johnson, a freshman guard who is the only other player averaging double digits points per game (10.6).

Lacy has already missed time earlier this season due to an emergency appendectomy that caused him to sit out against No. 1 Arizona. In that game, Washington State fell 60-25 and Johnson only totaled three points.

When not playing the top-ranked team in the nation, however, the Cougars have shown spurts of offense.

Cougar guard Dexter Kernich-Drew connected on six 3-pointers in eight attempts in a 71-70 overtime loss to Colorado, WSU’s top offensive output in conference play this year.

“They’ve got some decent outside shooters if they can get going,” Robinson said. “Our job is to keep them from getting going.”

OSU junior point guard Challe Barton is familiar with playing Washington State.

“They’ve been kind of like us,” Barton said. “They’ve been at the bottom of the Pac-12 but they’re always a team who has respect from everybody else — a feared team.”

WSU’s lone conference win this year was a 49-46 decision over Utah, a 3-3 Pac-12 team with wins against then-No. 25 UCLA, USC and Oregon State.

“They’ve been in every game,” Barton said. “Even if they lose by more than double-digits in the end or not, they’ve been in the game and the game can turn any way at any moment.”

OSU lost to the Utes but also beat Oregon and Stanford, whereas Washington State lost to Oregon in overtime and to the Cardinal by 32 points.

Washington State has allowed 66.5 points per game, a step up from the Beavers’ 75.2 points allowed.

“They play this funky matchup-zone that has been giving people some problems,” Robinson said. “It comes down to being more about us. We have to play with a level of confidence that we’ve been playing with.”

Oregon State has been shooting the ball well recently, ascending to the top of the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage with a 41.1 percent rate. Freshman guard Hallice Cooke leads the conference in individual shooting from beyond the arc at 55.3 percent.

A hot shooting streak and a Civil War victory have given the Beavers momentum heading into a key road trip in Washington. They’ll look to use it to their advantage Wednesday. 

“We beat a really good team that, at one point, was ranked 10th in the country, so we should have some pep in our step,” Robinson said. “I’ve always thought that these guys had a game like (the Civil War) in them.” 

Josh Worden, sports reporter

On Twitter @WordenJosh


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