I'll take any win over Oregon, and this was a solid - if occasionally sloppy - win for the Cougars. Had I watched the game live I'm sure there would have been some moments down the stretch I'd have been pulling my hair out. Given our past history against the Ducks I wasn't too thrilled when they started jacking up threes and occasionally making them. Thank goodness Tajuan Porter is no longer there.
Actually, a lot of people weren't there for Oregon tonight. Joevan Catron missed the second half due to a lower leg injury, and Malcolm Armstead missed the whole game. Had Oregon had any semblance of an offense without them this game might have gone down to the wire. But you can't take any win for granted in the Pac-10. WSU played great defense with limited fouling and made an ugly game into a fairly comfortable win.
WSU was careless with the ball early on and for a couple stretches in the second half. My concern is that had this been a game against Washington the Cougs could have buried themselves in something like a 20-4 hole before the first timeout. Fortunately, the Cougars had a stout defensive effort themselves. I can't remember the last WSU game with that many blocks. Klay Thompson, Casto (of course), Capers and even Patrick Simon got into the action under the basket. It eventually got to the point where all Oregon could do was shoot from the perimeter. And when you have trouble shooting like Oregon does, the result isn't great.
Some additional bullet points:
- The Cougars' turnover issues were problematic, but you have to credit the Oregon defense for baiting us into making bad entry passes, and getting a little out of control going up and down the court. Dana Altman's best teams at Creighton were top 50 defensive teams. I have a feeling the Ducks will be there in a couple years.
- I'm convinced now more than ever that Garrett Sim is the poor man's Klay Thompson.
Abe Lodwick had another solid game defensively, but I really saw his value as a screener today. I'm surprised Altman didn't direct his defense to leave Abe open more often instead of, say, Klay Thompson. Still, Abe hit half of his threes - two of them down the stretch to help snuff out any hope the Ducks had of a comeback. I'm convinced now more than ever that he is the second coming of Nik Koprivica.
- Why couldn't we have this officiating crew last year? They stayed in the background, let the players play when appropriate, and - my personal favorite part - appeared to call a lot of the 50:50 charge/block calls in the Cougars' favor. Thank you.
- Did I mention how happy I am Tajuan Porter graduated?
- The Cougs dominated the two areas I've wanted them to approve on: offensive rebounding and free throw rate. Like I said last night, free throw rate is why Reggie Moore is so special to this team. As far as offensive rebounding, Casto had one of his best nights I've seen in a long time. He kept balls alive and snatched them out of the air when he was in position. But Marcus Capers was the star with 4 offensive boards and a team-high nine total.
- Assuming Armstead and Catron are healthy, the Ducks are going to be a much tougher out the second time around.
Klay Thompson Player of the Game Award: Marcus Capers. Capers played 34 minutes last night, and was phenomenal outside of a couple misguided jump shots. 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting (5 of 6 FTs), 4 offensive rebounds (9 total), 3 assists, 2 blocks and 1 Capers tip dunk (TM).
Right Hand Man: Reggie Moore. 15 points, including 3-for-5 three-point shooting, 5 assists, and more free throws made than the entire Oregon team. Although part of that stat can be credited to WSU's great team defense inside the arc. Still, Reggie looks healthier and more aggressive each game. It's a huge boost.
Unsung Hero: DeAngelo Casto. 12 points and 7 boards, all while refusing to participate in the Cougs' turnover problems (just one on the night).
It was over when... Casto converted an and-one with 2:37 left. The Cougs would be up 77-58 and not even the refs could save the Ducks this time.
Play of the Game: Capers' electric tip dunk with 5:08 to play in the first. TM.
Stat of the Game: 7 team blocks, including 3 for Klay Thompson and 2 for Marcus Capers. Even when Klay isn't scoring 30 points in a game, he's working hard on the defensive end.