WSU hoops: Forget OSU's record, the Beavers playing some serious D in holding opponents to 39 percent shooting

THE COUGS are looking to put together back-to-back Pac-12 wins on the hardcourt for the first time in two years tonight in Spokane when they tip off against Oregon State (8 pm, Pac-12 Network). Las Vegas thinks Washington State gets the win. And if the game comes down to free throws, the odds are definitely in WSU's favor. But for all its troubles this season, Oregon State still has a defensive ace up its sleeve.

Despite OSU's record (4-11, 0-2 Pac-12)  it ranks No. 36 nationally in field goal percentage defense. The Beavers have held opponents to 39 percent shooting this season. The odds meanwhile look to favor Washington State.

  • WSU is favored by 4 1/2 points. 
  • Washington State's RPI is 180 while Oregon State's is 308. 
  • KenPom ranks the Cougs 194th and Oregon State 214th.

Washington State (8-5, 1-0 Pac-12) in its second Pac-12 tilt will face a struggling OSU squad beset by injuries -- Beaver players collectively have missed 31 games this season due to injuries with the two biggest losses being Tres Tinkle (9 games, broken wrist) and Cheikh N'diaye (7 games, shoulder).

But Oregon State played USC competitively in a seven-point loss before losing by double digits to UCLA. And despite the 76-63 loss to the Bruins, the Beavers held the nation's most efficient offense to their lowest shooting percentage of the year,  Oregonian beat writer Danny Moran notes.  He also thinks OSU might have some matchup advantages over the Cougs.

"The potential good news for OSU ... (WSU) owns the worst defensive turnover rate in the Pac-12, per KenPom. The Cougars only force 11.2 turnovers per game, which ranks 11th in the conference. Washington State also owns one of the worst offensive rebounding rates in the country, a benefit for an improved Oregon State defense that has held teams to 39 percent shooting on the season," reads the article.

If it comes down to free throws, however, you have to like Washington State's chances. WSU is tops in the Pac-12 (77.4 percent) from the line.  And Oregon State ranks 11th (65.4).

WSU has lost six-straight games against OSU.  In a scheduling quirk and for the second straight season, this is the only meeting between the two schools on the hardcourt.

WSU put together a three-game Pac-12 win streak in Ernie Kent’s first season at WSU, besting Cal, UW and Oregon in January 2015 and starting the conference slate 3-1.  Alas, WSU went 4-11 the rest of the way and the winning streak ended against the very team it faces tonight in Oregon State.  (Pictured above, Ike Iroegbu in 2015 matchup vs. OSU).


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