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Archive for February 14th, 2008

GAME THREAD: No. 21 WSU at Oregon State

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 14, 2008

Cougars (18-5 overall, 6-5 Pac-10) at Oregon State (6-17, 0-11)

Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, Ore.), 5:30 p.m. PT

A month ago, when the Beavers came to Pullman, Tony Bennett was trying to sell this to his team as a trap game. I didn’t buy it — OSU was in complete disarray, and the Beavers were playing (or not playing, as it were) for a coach that was about to be fired.

I’ll buy it as a trap game now.

The Beavers have played much better since Kevin Mouton (right) took over a few weeks ago, mostly because they appear to be playing harder for him. He almost immediately dismissed talented-but-eternally-disruptive center C.J. Giles, sending a message that it doesn’t matter how much natural ability you have, you are not going to play for him if you’re not going to bring it.

After a lackluster home showing against the LA schools the first weekend after the change, things started moving in the right direction. Although the defense is still horrific (114.7 defensive efficiency in conference play), the offense has been considerably better.

The Beavers were an absolutely abysmal shooting team under Jay John, but since Mouton has taken over, OSU has exceeded 50 percent in effective field goal percentage (what’s that?) twice — something they did not do under Jay in conference games — leading to season highs in offensive efficiency, mostly because they’re hitting a few more 3s. (Fifty percent eFG% is kind of the bench mark for good shooting.) Since I haven’t watched them play, I don’t know if they’re doing anything different on offense to accomplish it.

While this improvement hasn’t resulted a win yet, the Beavs did hold second-half leads against both Cal and Stanford last weekend, and no Pac-10 team has ever gone 0-18 — not even those horrible WSU teams of Paul Graham. They are going to jump up and bite someone at some point.

However, I still don’t think tonight’s the night. The Cougs are not ripe for an upset any longer. OSU will struggle being patient against the Cougs, and will shoot somewhere between 15 and 20 3s. Unless they hit about half of those, I envision this game being like the USC, winning going away.


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