Tue, 19 Jan 2021

Unbeaten Oregon State, Washington State begin Pac-12 play

Field Level Media
02 Dec 2020, 11:05 GMT+10

Oregon State and Washington State entered the season projected to occupy the last two spots in the Pac-12.

So far, the early results have been decent for both teams.

The Beavers and host Cougars will get together for the first of 20 conference games Wednesday night in Pullman, Wash.

The Beavers are 2-0 for the third straight season and sixth time under coach Wayne Tinkle. A win Wednesday would give Oregon State its second 3-0 start in three seasons and fourth under Tinkle during a season in which it was picked to finish in last place in the preseason Pac-12 poll.

The Beavers have opened the season with a 71-63 win over California in a nonleague game -- after the originally scheduled game with Colorado State was postponed -- and a 114-42 rout over NAIA opponent Northwest on Friday. Oregon State is coming off its highest-scoring game since 1987 when it shot 65.7 percent and placed six players in double figures, including Ethan Thompson, who scored 17.

"Our guys need to hit the court," Tinkle said after the season opener. "They've been through a lot and it's not ideal. But you know what, forget everything else. Let's get our guys on the court. It was great to do that."

Washington State (2-0) was picked 11th in the preseason poll and has played a pair of close low-scoring games so far. The Cougars followed up a 56-52 win over Texas Southern with Saturday's 71-68 win over Eastern Washington before jumping into league play.

"It's just an odd (feeling)," Washington State coach Kyle Smith said of the early conference games. "The scores in these games are going to be different to where you should be come January. I haven't done this ever; I don't think the Pac-12 has that I'm aware of so it'll be interesting."

The Cougars have not shot well in either game but each time made enough plays down the stretch to win. Against Texas Southern, Washington State shot 28 percent and blew an eight-point lead in the final five-plus minutes before pulling out the win. Against Eastern Washington, the Cougars shot 40 percent and trailed by 13 in the opening minutes.

So far, the Cougars have gotten two big performances from Isaac Bonton and Noah Williams. Bonton scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half in the season opener and Williams netted a career-high 19 points on Saturday.

"If we just play as hard as we've been playing and just keep on fighting through adversity, we can win a lot of games this year," Williams said.

Wednesday is the 300th meeting between the schools. Bonton scored 34 points in the last meeting when Washington State ended a four-game skid in the series with an 89-76 victory on Jan. 18.

--Field Level Media

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