This sports weekend turned out about a million times better than the last one.
I have the game on DVR, so I'll have some more thoughts in the morning after I get to see all of the action. Still, this game points out to me just how important Reggie Moore is to this team. I've said before he can be the difference between this team just being good (see: when he was injured) and being great (see: this week's sweep). Reggie's dishing out assists with more regularity, and tonight he used his scoring to spark the Cougs to a double-digit win over Oregon. Think about this: Reggie had more free throws made (6) than the entire Oregon team (5). The Cougs have struggled with scoring at the line all year: tonight they shot 85% at the stripe, which allowed them to make twice as many free throws (18) as Oregon attempted (9). This aspect of the game is what Reggie Moore brings you, and it's what the Cougs need to vault to the next level.
This was a marquee night for the Cougs' starting five. Moore, Capers, Thompson, Lodwick and Casto held down the vast majority of the minutes... and appear to be hitting their stride as a group. That's good, because on a night like tonight where Faisal Aden isn't hitting, it's good to know the Cougs can go back to their starting five and remain strong on offense and defense. I'm not a fan of Brock Motum only getting 14 minutes, but since Simon had 11 and the rest of the starters took up so much of the time on the floor, I can live with it. Obviously a win is an outcome you can always be happy with.
Tonight's result makes sense, too, as there appear to be only two outcomes in WSU/Oregon basketball games: close loss to the Ducks sparked by shaky officiating... or a blowout win for the Cougs. I'm fairly confident no Oregon fans will be offended by that assertion, as they have bigger fish to fry on Monday.
I also wouldn't be too concerned about the turnovers: Oregon's defense has been re-tooled to force more of those, and WSU dominated the other three of the four factors to the point where they really were a non-issue.
Now comes the tricky part. The only "must-win" in college basketball is your final game, be it in the conference tournament or Big Dance. Having said that, it's essential to the Cougs' prospects to win at least one of the two games in the Bay Area. Do that, and take care of ASU at home, and the Cougs can be 5-2 or 4-3 going into their big-time home tests against the two best teams in the Pac-10: Arizona and Washington. In the next three weeks we're really going to find out whether WSU is a pretender or contender.
I'll have charts and awards in the morning. Good night, and may visions of Beast Mode dance in your head.