Washington State travels to Eugene tonight in hopes of starting the second half of the Pac-10 round robin better than they did the first. Last month, The Cougs were able to overwhelm the Ducks, posting a 77-63 win after spending the entire second half leading by double digits. The Cougs are easily the better team, but there have been many of time they have traveled to Oregon as a better team but left with a loss. Even when the Ducks are down, WSU fans are terrified of them.
So what are our reasons for being terrified tonight? I'll give you two.
First off, the location of the game. U of O opened their shiny new arena with an upset victory over USC. Then they managed to fare pretty well against a superior UCLA team. Every team plays better at home, but Oregon has a pretty vicious and rowdy student section that has been known to get in the heads of opposing players. They have some pretty easy ammunition this year with the legal troubles of our point guard, but they are often more creative and knowledgeable of player and coach transgressions than the players and coaches are themselves.
Of course, this is Eugene. I'm not even entirely sure marijuana is illegal there, so Reggie might just get a big round of applause.
There is also the added factor of the court. The three point line is a well kept secret that Oregon shares with the referees right before the game begins, then makes them pinky swear not to tell anyone. If the refs refuse, the Ducks just have to remind them they are "Deep in the Woods" and they comply.
The second thing to make you terrified is Mr. Joevan Catron. Catron is easily Oregon's best offensive player, and it is not even close. He is one of the best in the nation at drawing fouls (7.9/40) and is a good offensive rebounder. He only played 12 minutes in Pullman before leaving with an injury.
So now that you are absolutely sure we are going to lose, let me tell you why we should win.
Oregon is a terrible shooting team. 286th in the country in eFG% and 263rd in 3pt%. WSU is 21st in eFG% defense. Baskets should come at a premium for the Ducks. Oregon's best asset on defense is its ability to turn other teams over (23.0 TO Rate), but WSU takes good care of the ball with a 17.6 TO Rate.
The best part? As Nuss has pointed out, the WSU offense performs better when they are getting more assists. Oregon allows teams to assist on 57.3% of their field goals.
This road trip is big for WSU. Not because it can provide some signature victories, but the opposite. If the Cougs are serious about an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, they need to take care of business against inferior teams on the road. The committee likes it when you play well away from home.
So this is your game thread to share your nervous ramblings with fellow Coug fans. The game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Northwest, which is apparently 179 on Comcast in Seattle.