Washington St.-Oregon Preview
Having bounced back from back-to-back losses, Oregon can focus on setting the school record for consecutive home victories.
Considering Washington State has yet to win on the road and is mired in its worst overall skid in 13 years, the 13th-ranked Ducks should not have a hard time recording that 24th straight home victory Wednesday night.
Oregon (21-6, 10-4 Pac-12) regrouped from defeats at California and Stanford on Feb. 11 and 13 by scoring 51 first-half points - a season high - in its eventual 91-81 victory over Oregon State on Saturday.
"I didn't want to make a big deal about (the two straight defeats)," coach Dana Altman said. "You see teams all over the country that don't have good outings and it's a long season but I was very disappointed so I was hoping we'd come back and play focus and alert.
"It's just a matter of working our tails off to get better."
With four games remaining, the Ducks are tied with No. 9 Arizona atop the Pac-12. Before concluding its home schedule versus Washington on Sunday, Oregon can make school history in its only meeting with the last-place Cougars (9-18, 1-14).
The Ducks - who also had 23-game runs at home from 1937-39 and 2001-02 - haven't lost at home since then-No. 7 Arizona rolled to an 80-62 victory Jan. 8 of last year. They have won their last four league games at Matthew Knight Arena by at least 10 points.
"It's the atmosphere, it's the fans," said freshman guard Tyler Dorsey, who matched a season high with 25 points Saturday. "We've got to protect our home court, we know that. When (we are) at home we know what we've got to do."
The Ducks have done so while taking the last five meetings with Washington State in Eugene by an average of 14.5 points. Reserve forward Dwayne Benjamin scored a career-high 25 as Oregon shot a 54.7 percent during a 95-72 home rout of the Cougars last season.
Washington State has dropped 13 in a row since beating then-No. 25 UCLA 85-78 on Jan. 3 - its longest skid since a 14-game slide in 2002-03. That was also the last season the Cougars went winless on the road.
A loser of eight straight road games since winning at USC one year ago Thursday, Washington State plays its final three outside Pullman starting with this contest. Since shooting 50.8 percent in an 88-81 double-overtime loss at Colorado on Feb. 11, the Cougars have failed to shoot better than 44.4 percent and allowed 52.1 percent shooting while losing the last three by an average of 25 points.
"We talk about this being a losing stretch ... to me it's learning not losing," said Washington State and ex-Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "You get ready for building the next round of building your program.
"You're going into three ballgames where the environment is going to be incredible. ... The good thing is there is no quit in them."
Junior forward Josh Hawkinson, who averages 15.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, was held to 12 and seven in Sunday's 80-62 loss to Cal, but totaled 40 points and 24 rebounds in two games against the Ducks last season.
Teammate Que Johnson has averaged 17.3 points in four games.