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Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 9, 2008

Trojans (15-7 overall, 6-4 Pac-10) at Cougars (17-5, 5-5)

Beasley Coliseum (Pullman, Wash.), 12:30 p.m. PT

Not much to say heading into this one. The Cougs need a win badly, and it doesn’t hurt that they could get it against one of the hottest teams in the conference in front of a sizable regional television audience.

The Cougs really destroyed USC late in the first matchup, exploiting the Trojans’ full-court press for numerous easy buckets. WSU posted its highest offensive efficiency rating of the conference season the first time around (123.3).

The defense was pretty good in that one, too — although giving up a pretty high shooting percentage, the Cougs kept USC off the free throw line (just four attempts) and pretty much made the Trojans one-dimensional with O.J. Mayo carrying most of the load.

Of, course, Davon Jefferson (right, posterizing Jon Brockman on Thursday) didn’t play in that first contest. And that is not small.

Since sitting out that game with what Tim Floyd described as “not making the cut,” the 6-foot-7, 215-pound freshman wing has averaged nearly 15 points (with a high of 25) and 6.5 rebounds. He’s a freakish athlete perhaps best known for this amazing tip jam against Memphis (of which I could find no video), and his emergence is perhaps the No. 1 reason USC has caught fire. No longer can teams succeed by simply trying to give Mayo his and limit everyone else.

You probably won’t see any comments from me during the game, since I’m going caucusing (is that a word?) with my wife this afternoon. Although I love the Cougs, something tells me that helping to pick the next president is a bit more important today. See you all this afternoon.


5 Responses to “GAME THREAD: USC at No. 17 WSU”

  1. Longball said

    I actually skipped caucusing for the game. I wonder if Cougar basketball fans break strongly for one candidate or the other and it will show up in the results!

  2. Julie said

    Like you, my husband and I decided to caucus instead of going to the game. It was difficult to miss it, but we brought a radio and were able to listen every now and then. I can’t wait to see this one on tape.

    Thanks for your blog.

  3. Longball said

    Today’s game was our best performance of the Pac-10 season, and i dont think its a coincidence that it is also the most creative Tony has been with the rotation. Both Nic and Caleb got plenty of minutes and contributed a lot. At one stretch early in the 2nd half we went with lineup of Baynes, Harm, Nic, Taylor and Forest. A glimpse of next year perhaps? well it worked, as we maintained or even stretched our lead a bit with that lineup. It is also a big lineup with the exception of Taylor, and with USC topping out at 6’9″ with Taj it allowed us to counter their athletic advantages withour size advantage. Nic especially looked great today, taking oportunities to attack the rim and being active without the ball. He showed a real knack for getting open under the rim last year, and i saw that again today. Its clear that we arent the defensive team we were last year, and these guys will continue to work on that, but i believe our higher ceiling for improvement at this point is on the offensive end. The last 3 games i felt we showed some good life on the offensive end. The Cal game remains a terrible loss, but to lose to a hot Stanford team in OT when we had our chances, and then to compete very well with UCLA who may be the best team in all the land, is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Last time we played UCLA we looked like a JV team that didnt belong in the same gym with those guys (also see our game at Zona), but this time round we were more than enough for them and outplayed them for long stretches. We have had a problem this year with players we count on, namely Baynes, Cowgill, Harm and Low, not showing up, and it seems to me the cure is to give other guys like Nic and Caleb a chance when that is happening instead of just sending the bucket down the dry well again and again. Of course tonight was also an example of a veteran team with its back to the wall, taking a young team completely out of their game. The first time this conference season i really felt our advantage in experience was huge.

    Ok, so now that all the top 10 and final 4 hype has passed us by we can get back to being what we are… the Bad News Bears of college basketball.

  4. Ptowncoug said

    I agree with Longball, this was a well played game by the Cougs. However I think USC is a good match up because they are not patient on offense. Nic brings another dimension with his slashing through the lane looking for the ball. He is starting to round into the ole Nic!
    Low is still looking for too many 3s. Sometimes he should catch off the screen and penetrate and put up one of his floaters. I would be interested on Baynes’ minutes because he wasn’t in foul trouble, but they cut back on his time it appears.
    I can say one thing we will be in desparate need of a ball handler next year to help out Rochestie.

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