This week in WSU Hoops

WE DON'T KNOW who will coach Washington State or the style the Cougars will employ next season, but it seems certain DaVonté Lacy is setting the stage for a terrific senior season in 2014-15. If the 6-foot-4 junior guard stays healthy next season, Lacy should be on a short list for Pac-12 player of the year.

Since returning from his midseason rib injury, DaVonté Lacy has posted career highs of 39 and 34 points, in each game hitting eight 3-pointers. Even before the injury, Lacy had some spectacular performances, scoring at least 25 points three times.

Up until his bout with appendicitis and the rib injury, Lacy has had a fairly durable Cougar career. During his first two seasons, Lacy missed seven games total.

The statistical improvements Lacy has made this season over his first two campaigns are dramatic. He's almost doubled his scoring average to 19.4 points a game, and his field goal percentage (.462 vs. .411 last season) and 3-point field goal percentage (.421 vs. .377 last season) are way up. Lacy might be the league's most improved free throw shooter, at .844, vs. .688 last season.

Lacy doesn't show up among the Pac-12's statistical leaders because he hasn't played in 75 percent of the Cougars' games this season. But you could see Lacy's name in the Pac-12 stats by year's end if he doesn't miss another game. If Lacy were eligible, he would rank first in 3-pointers made, second in scoring, sixth in free throw percentage and seventh in 3-point percentage.

Something to keep your interest for next season.

Cougs at OSU, Oregon


At OSU: 6 p.m. Thursday, Pac-12 Network

The series: Beavers lead 165-124

At Oregon: 6 p.m. Sunday, Pac-12 Network

The series:Ducks lead 163-123


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The week ahead: Washington State (9-16, 2-11) tries to end a terrible skid, losing eight of its past nine games, as the Cougars head to the Willamette Valley to face Oregon State (13-11, 5-7) on Thursday, followed by a Sunday night game at Oregon (16-8, 4-8).

Combined, Oregon and Oregon State are 21-5 at home this season. Not that we're pointing out another challenge for the Cougars this week.

Oregon State has one conference road win this season, against guess who? That would be Washington State, a 66-55 win on Jan. 22. The Beavers controlled, leading for the final 38 minutes. It's an asterisk game, for sure, since Lacy didn't play, but still, OSU has been a road wimp the past few seasons.

It's an entirely different story in Corvallis, where Oregon State is 4-1 in Pac-12 play, including a win over UCLA. Surprisingly, Gill Coliseum has been a good venue of late for the Cougars, who have won four straight in Corvallis, including a 2012 CBI tournament game.

Since 2007, Washington State is 12-5 against Oregon State.

Forget the official Pac-12 stats; Thursday's game is a showdown of the league's top two scorers in Oregon State's Roberto Nelson and Lacy. Nelson, a senior wing, is averaging 21.3 points a game. Nelson is a steady scorer, topping 30 points just once through 12 league games. Nelson has been a little light of late, scoring 10, 12 and 18 points in three of his past four games. Nelson had his way with the Cougars earlier this season, scoring 26 points when the two teams played in Pullman.

The Beavers have some size, as Devon Collier, Angus Brandt and Eric Moreland are capable inside threats. They combine to average 35 points and 21 rebounds a game. Freshman guard Hallice Cooke has been steadily improving for the Beavers, and occasionally has big games from beyond the 3-point arc.

As for Oregon, the Cougars should expect to face a desperate Ducks team. Despite its 10th-place standing in the Pac-12, Oregon still has a shot at the NCAAs because of an 11-0 start to the season. But the Ducks can't afford a slip-up the rest of the season, particularly at home to Washington State.

The Cougars got a preview of Oregon's frantic mindset four weeks ago when the Ducks rolled into Pullman with a five-game losing streak. Oregon demolished the Cougs, winning 71-44 in a game that was a blowout almost from the opening tip.

Since then, Oregon is 2-3, all three losses by two points.

The Ducks' leader is junior guard Joseph Young, the team's leading scorer at 18.9 points a game. Young has been on fire of late, averaging 23 points during Oregon's past five games. Young had only 10 against the Cougars in the previous game, but the Ducks didn't need his firepower that night.

Oregon has several players who are capable of leading the way. Senior transfer Mike Moser is a proven threat, averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. Jason Calliste scored 20 against WSU in January, and averages 12.5 points a game. Others worth noting include Damyean Dotson (10.5 ppg) and Johnathan Loyd (7.6 ppg).

The Cougars have dropped four consecutive games in Eugene, last winning in 2009.

Read Nick Daschel's occasional Pac-12 ramblings at twitter.com/nickdaschel

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