PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) -- It's been a long time since Washington
State made much noise in Pac-10 basketball, but Cougar senior Jeff
Varem is making himself heard loud and clear.
Varem, who struggled in nonconference games, continued his
outstanding Pac-10 play by leading all players Thursday night with
14 points, 13 rebounds and four steals in a 63-45 victory over
The Cougars are 8-6 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-10 -- their best
conference start since a 5-2 leadoff in 1995-96.
"I don't know what's going on; I'm just being me," Varem said.
"It's a new year, a new state of mind."
David Lucas led Oregon State (10-5, 2-2) with 12 points and six
rebounds. The Beavers scored the game's first point, then gave up
15 consecutive points and trailed the rest of the way.
Varem was inconsistent last season, his first at WSU after
transferring from an Indiana junior college. The inconsistency
continued early this season, but Varem is averaging 17.0 points and
10.4 rebounds in league play after averaging 7.1 points and 7.3
rebounds in nonconference games.
"As the game wore on, Jeff became very dominant," Oregon State
coach Jay John said.
"He doesn't stop playing," WSU coach Dick Bennett said. "Last
year, he did stop playing when he made mistakes."
Oregon State's 45 points and 31.1 field-goal shooting percentage
were season lows. Washington State ranked third in the latest NCAA
Division I statistics (through Monday) with 54.5 points allowed per
"Washington State is a very good defensive team," said OSU
guard Jason Fontenet, who was averaging 13.3 points in Pac-10 games
before scoring just six points Thursday night. "They did a good
job on us."
The Cougars have posted their three highest point totals in the
last three games.
"They execute very well," John said. "They got off to a great
As for his Beavers, John said, "There was no question we came
The Beavers missed their first seven field-goal tries, but WSU
started 6-for-8 from the field, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Oregon State held the Cougars scoreless for nearly eight minutes
during an 11-0 run that reduced WSU's lead to 24-23, but the
Cougars scored the last five points of the first half and opened
the second half with an 8-2 spurt.
The Beavers played without senior guard J.S. Nash. John said
Nash was suspended for one game for a team rules violation that
John refused to discuss.
Lucas said Nash's absence "hurt us, because he brings
leadership and unity."
"Not having J.S. impacted our ability to defend," John