Thursday, March 12, 2009

Final: Washington State 62, Oregon 40

This was one of those clunkers where Washington State outclassed the Ducks, who were never in this game and depended on one player -- 5-foot-6 Tajuan Porter -- who scored half of Oregon's points.

Washington State's strategy was to pound the ball inside to burly center Aron Baynes and forced the Oregon young big men to stop him. It didn't work. After playing some inspiring ball toward the end of the season, coach Ernie Kent's Ducks looked bad in their final three games, leaving his job status in question. The question for the University of Oregon, with a new arena on the horizon, is do you can Kent after a 2-17 conference record or allow him to come back because Oregon is extremely young and potentially talented.

The Cougars improved to 17-14 and are a cinch for the NIT, likely a first-round game against Weber State, that's my guess.

"I don't think we took a step back against Washington in our final regular season game, but unfortunately didn't come away with one, but we were solid tonight," Washington State coach Tony Bennett said. "We did a nice job getting the ball to inside to Aron. He really got us going offensively. And we made it hard for them. In the first half, even the 3's that they hit, all of them we're pretty well contested."

Now Washington State takes on UCLA in the nightcap on Thursday night. The Cougars won for just the second time at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 21 as Taylor Rochestie scored 33 points. It should be an interesting game because that was UCLA's last loss and the Bruins are playing for a No. 3 seed.

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