EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon Ducks no longer play basketball across the street from a cemetery, but Washington State's Pacific-10 Conference title hopes likely were buried deep Thursday night at glossy new Matthew Knight Arena.
The Cougars, playing their first game at “The Matt” after 83 years of visits to McArthur Court across campus, were outplayed and outworked from start to finish in a 69-43 defeat.
“We played very poorly,” Washington State star Klay Thompson said.
WSU, coming off Sunday’s win over then-No. 18 Washington that sparked renewed optimism about a possible title run, set season lows for points, field-goal shooting percentage (25.9) and 3-point shooting percentage (16.0). The margin of defeat (26) was the largest of the season.
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“I don’t think I had our guys ready to go,” coach Ken Bone said. “There’s no excuse to come out and play as lethargic as we did.”
The Cougars (15-7 overall) slipped to 5-5 in the Pac-10 to start the second half of league play. With eight games to go, WSU is three games behind league-leading Arizona.
“We can’t rule anything out,” WSU forward Abe Lodwick said.
Well, you certainly can if the Cougars don’t play substantially better than they did Thursday. Not only were they out-rebounded, 39-30, by one of the worst rebounding teams in the Pac-10, they were outshot 43-26 percent from the field by one of the worst shooting teams in the nation.
The Ducks (11-11, 4-6) came into the game averaging 34 rebounds and shooting 41 percent.
“They played great,” said Lodwick, a native of Bend, Ore. “They played with a lot of confidence. A lot of that is due to our lack of defense, especially in the first few minutes of the game.”
The Cougars trailed 33-23 at intermission after closing the first half with just one field goal in nearly 12 minutes. Oregon led 51-25 barely seven minutes into the second half after holding WSU to one field goal during an 18-2 run.
Oregon forward Joevan Catron led everyone with 17 points and nine rebounds before 10,017 fans.
“Catron’s a very good player,” Bone said. “He’s had a nice season.”
“Joevan played really hard,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He played really well not just offensively, but on defense he took three charges.”
Thompson topped the Cougars with 12 points, but he made just 4 of 13 shots. The Pac-10 scoring leader started the day ranked eighth in NCAA Division I with 22.3 points per game.
Faisal Aden, WSU’s second-leading scorer (13.8), had six points on 2-for-10 shooting.
“We really wanted to key on those two (Thompson and Aden),” Catron said.
Bone had expressed concern earlier in the week that the Cougars might have a letdown after the emotional win over Washington.
Asked if that explained his team’s play at Oregon, Bone said, “Could be. Could be. I don’t know.”
“Our play doesn’t allow us to say anything differently,” Lodwick said.
“Yeah, it was a letdown,” said Thompson, who moved past Mark Hendrickson into fourth place in career scoring at Washington State. “I still think we’re better than that team, but obviously, we weren’t tonight.”
The Cougars visit Oregon State on Saturday. The Beavers upset No. 20 Washington, 68-56, on Thursday.