Cook leads No. 13 Oregon past Washington State, 76
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) About the only thing Elgin Cook couldn't play well Wednesday night was coy.
Asked if he knew about No. 9 Arizona's loss at Colorado earlier in the evening that helped give No. 13 Oregon sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, the senior forward pretended to be clueless.
''No, what went on? What happened?'' Cook said as a big smile, as if the PA announcement during a timeout in his own game had fallen upon deaf ears. ''Yeah, I heard about it. I'm happy with it.''
The Ducks took care of their own business, with Cook scoring 16 of his 24 points in the second half to lead them to a 76-62 victory over Washington State.
Chris Boucher had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Dillon Brooks added 17 points for the Ducks (22-6, 11-4), who set a school record with their 24th consecutive home win.
With three games left in the regular season, Oregon is within reach of its first regular-season conference title in 14 years. That alone calls for some scoreboard watching by the Ducks, who can wrap up an 18-0 home season Sunday against Washington.
''I'm checking everybody's scores, trying to stay updated,'' Cook said.
Que Johnson led the Cougars (9-19, 1-15) with 19 points before fouling out midway through the second half. Josh Hawkinson added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Washington State, which has lost 14 straight.
Oregon's lead reached a high of 19 points when Cook scored the first four points of the second half. The Cougars came no closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Cook also made 10 of 11 free throws as Oregon finished 17 of 20 from the foul line. The Ducks were coming off a season-best 29 of 33 in Sunday's win over Oregon State.
''We'll take that and hopefully that'll continue,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman said. ''That's such a big factor down the stretch here.''
The Ducks never trailed and had Washington State down 17-3 after the first five minutes. The Cougars cut the gap to seven twice as Johnson heated up for 14 points, but Oregon closed the half by hitting six straight free throws for a 42-27 lead.
''We jumped out and really came out strong,'' Altman said. ''Our activity was good, so I was very pleased with the way we started.''
Boucher had 10 points and seven rebounds by halftime, but defense made the difference for the Ducks, whose three-quarter-court press helped force 10 turnovers that they turned into 19 points.
Oregon finished with a 23-7 edge in points off turnovers and outscored Washington State 15-6 in second-chance points.
''Obviously, those were the difference in the game,'' Altman said.
The struggling Cougars, who are assured of the 12th seed at next month's conference tournament in Las Vegas, fell to 0-18 after trailing at halftime.
''I thought there were three times in the second half, late, where if you hit a bucket, you knock it to eight,'' Washington State coach Ernie Kent said. ''We played them better on this floor, just not good enough.''
Washington State: The Cougars' 14-game losing streak matches the longest in Kent's 21 seasons as a college head coach at three schools. Kent's penultimate team at Oregon lost 14 straight on its way to an 8-23 finish in 2008-09. . Kent used his 14th different starting lineup of the season against the Ducks. Junior Ike Iroegbu is the only Cougar to start all 28 games. . For the first time since 1922, the Cougars and Ducks did not meet at least twice in the regular season.
Oregon: The Ducks' strength of schedule ranks first in the nation. . The last time Oregon won 23 in a row, Ernie Kent, Washington State's second-year coach, was in his sixth season with the Ducks in 2002-03. . Chris Boucher is closing in on teammate Jordan Bell's school record for blocked shots in a season. Boucher had four blocks to give him 91 in 28 games. Bell blocked 94 shots in 35 games as a freshman last season.
A FAMILIAR LOOK
Kent, who coached for 13 years at Oregon, sees a lot of his second of two Elite Eight teams during his tenure that lost to eventual-champion Florida in 2007 in this year's Ducks. ''Dana (Altman)'s team reminds me of (that) team where they have skill all over the floor, they can spread you out and beat you off the bounce, everybody can score. He's got a really, really nice squad,'' Kent said. ''This team has a chance to win (the Pac-12 title), close it out and have a chance to do some damage in the (NCAA) tournament too, because they'll get an excellent seed.''
Washington State plays at Oregon State on Sunday.
Oregon hosts Washington on Sunday.