Kent names Rochestie All-European

EUGENE -- C'mon. Admit it. Fess up. Were you one of the countless Washington State fans calling for Taylor Rochestie's head just a few weeks ago? If so, shame on you. As punishment – though, in reality, a treat -- you are hereby sentenced to watch 50 consecutive replays of Rochestie's game for the ages Saturday at Mac Court.

Rochestie was so brilliant, so clutch, so EVERYTHING that even Ernie Kent had to give it up for the little dude.

"A very heady, crafty, European point guard," the longtime Oregon coach said.

Rochestie grew up in Santa Barbara, Calif., but you get the idea.

"He has a great feel for the game," Kent said. "He controlled a good part of the game by himself. He did an excellent job." Boy, did he ever. Rochestie scored a career-high 30 points, held explosive Oregon guard Tajuan Porter scoreless for 31 minutes, dished out seven assists and sparked the greatest free throw-shooting performance in Pac-10 history.

"Taylor's really carrying us," Cougar coach Tony Bennett said.

Rochestie was the best of the best in a game that was as strange as its 11 a.m. starting time.

For starters, a team that gets to the free-throw line far less than any other Pac-10 team set a conference record for total free throws in one game without a miss (28). That's also a school record, and Rochestie tied Marcus Moore's 2002 school record for individuals when he went 16 for 16 at the line.

Many of the freebies on Rochestie and other Cougars resulted from Oregon fouling on purpose in the final minutes. However, there were some earlier calls and non-calls that so enraged Kent that he was ejected from a game for the first time in his 19 years as a head coach.

Kent was watching on television in the bowels of battered Mac Court when another historic event took place. Aron Baynes, the burly center whose shooting range tends to be up to and including 3 feet from the basket, buried the first 3-point basket of his four-year college career.

Baynes grabbed a long rebound at the top of the arc and let 'er fly because he was unaware the shot clock had been re-set after a rushed 3-point try by Rochestie from the right corner apparently brushed the rim.

The refs reviewed tape and concluded that everything was A-OK, but Kent said Rochestie shot an air ball and Baynes' shot came after the shot clock should have expired.

Obviously, Kent's opinion wasn't the one that mattered, and Baynes was all smiles afterward.

"I just let it go," he said. "It happens every now and then."

"We might add that into our repertoire," Rochestie joked. Baynes had a great day all-around, even without the 3. Working primarily against promising freshmen Michael Dunigan and Josh Crittle, Baynes scored a season-high 19 points, tied his career high of 12 rebounds and tied his season high of three blocked shots.

Bennett said Baynes and Rochestie "really stepped up late," and the coach also was pleased with the defense of freshmen DeAngelo Casto and Marcus Capers and the offense and defense of freshman Klay Thompson.

Thompson scored 15 points and tied his season high with three steals. Capers made his first start and went scoreless, just like Casto did Thursday at Oregon State in his only start, but both players had an impact on the defensive end.

Bennett said Casto "did a terrific job" guarding muscular junior Joevan Catron. In fact, the ever-demanding Bennett said he was delighted with WSU's defense as a whole "until the last three minutes," when Porter got hot.

It was too little too late, however, as the young Ducks fell to 0-6 in the Pac-10 and 6-12 overall. WSU improved to 11-6 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-10, and the Cougars can push themselves into the title picture if they stretch their winning streak to four Thursday with a home win over ninth-ranked UCLA (14-3, 4-1).

UCLA has won or shared the past three regular-season titles, but the Bruins suffered their first Pac-10 loss Saturday in overtime against Arizona State. Rochestie will be matched up against Darrin Collison, one of the nation's premier point guards.

Of course, Rochestie has played like one of the nation's best point guards since he came out a slump that centered on far too many missed jumpers and uncharacteristic turnovers.

Rochestie has lifted his team-leading season averages to 12.7 points and 4.6 assists per game, and he's averaging 19.2 points and 4.4 assists in Pac-10 play. He has played all but six minutes in WSU's five conference games.

Rochestie sat out just 42 seconds Saturday, after he played all 45 minutes in the overtime win at Oregon State on Thursday. His busy day Saturday included 10 clutch free throws at the end. Those shots came right after he twice knocked down 3's with the shot clock winding down after Oregon had crept within nine.

Rochestie looked weary late in the game, but he picked back up when he reflected afterward on WSU's second straight Oregon road sweep.

"To sweep on the road is just a big step for us," he said.

NOTABLE: Both of the Cougars' games against the L.A. schools will be televised on FSN. Tipoff against UCLA is 6 pm Thursday and on Saturday the Cougs and Trojans square off at 3 pm.


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