HOOPS: 5 WSU takeaways as Beavers loom

THE SAME WSU team that managed just 43 points while losing badly to UC Santa Barbara earlier this year is now, as of Thursday against Oregon, the first Cougar team to score more than a 100 points in a game since December 2002. Tonight, the upstart Cougs, winners of three straight, will aim to stoke their mo against another team that has been turning heads and perhaps even more so -- Oregon State.

Oregon State(11-5, 2-2) will battle the Cougars (9-7, 3-1) at 6 p.m. tonight in Beasley Coliseum. This meeting of two coaches with long and impressive resumes at new schools -- Wayne Tinkle and Ernie Kent -- will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks with Aaron Goldsmith and Dan Dickau on the call.

Other than the fact the Cougs scored a load of points and played tough in overtime, what did we learn from the win over Oregon that might be instructive for tonight's matchup with the Beavs?

1. Brett Boese IS THE REAL DEAL
The junior forward is a different player than he was last season. Kent encourages his players to shoot the three pointer and Boese hasn't hesitated. He leads the team in three-point field goal percentage (.444). Against the Ducks he hit four of six from 3-point range. But Boese also didn’t sit behind the arch the entire game waiting for the ball like in the past. There were times where he would drive to the basket or pass up the shot to find his open teammates. Boese finished with a career high 16 points and also tied for the team high in assists (five). In the past two games, the Spokane native has played over 30 minutes. Expect another long outing on the floor for Boese against Oregon State.

2. LITTLE THINGS MATTER Though the stat sheet against Oregon was dominated by WSU big Josh Hawkinson, Ike Iroegbu, and DaVonte Lacy, junior forward Junior Longrus and redshirt senior guard Dexter Kernich-Drew also had nice games. Longrus’ defense showed against the Ducks. He helped limit Oregon freshman forward Jordan Bell to just five points. He also had a few dunks that got the fans at Beasley Coliseum on their feet. Kernich-Drew finished with three points and one of two shooting, but contributed more on the defensive end. He blocked a crucial shot in second half that prevented the Ducks from building their lead and momentum. “He (Kernich-Drew) finally came to the party and got on his “A” game tonight,” Kent said afterward.

WSU dished 24 assists against Oregon, which was 10 more than what Oregon finished with. The Cougars’ rarely forced bad shots against the Ducks and instead focused on moving the ball around the perimeter until a good look opened. So it was no surprise four Cougars scored in double figures. That type of ball movement and willingness to make the extra pass will be key against OSU's grind-it-out defense.

Besides working hard to turn around this basketball team, Kent has worked hard to get Beasley Coliseum rocking again. A student section that once filled just about two rows at the beginning of the season turned into an overcrowded and rowdy section on Thursday. You could tell the Cougars were feeding off the energy of the students. With a win against Oregon at home and a third-place standing in the Pac-12, Beasley could be really rockin' tonight.

Overall Kent was pleased with his team’s performance against the Ducks, but he did point out how his team team is still young and made mental errors. “We looked at the halftime (stats), they had seven offensive rebounds that shouldn’t happen if you’re blocking out and paying attention to detail,” Kent said. “They had 11 second-chance points ... that shouldn’t happen and their bigs were driving us too much — that should not happen.” The Cougars also struggled with defending Oregon’s Joseph Young who scored 32 points.“This team is young and they make mistakes and those mistakes against a good team or player like Young, they make you pay,” Kent said. “So when you talk about growth we can get so much more mentally tougher to understand the grind or a 40 minute basketball game.”

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