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Ben Ball: Getting Back on Track

It’s time to let go of the upset loss to Arizona State and turn our attention to our next opponent: the Washington State Cougars.

The Cougars are coming off a 74-62 road win against Oregon. They were paced by Taylor Rochestie’s career-high 30 points, he's one of the league's hottest players.

Taylor Rochestie, Washington State: The senior guard averaged 22 points and 7.5 assists as the Cougars won at Oregon State and Oregon to improve to 3-2 in conference. Rochestie shot 7 for 12 from three-point range and 19 for 20 at the free throw line, including 16 for 16 against Oregon on Saturday.

WSU also set a Pac 10 free throw percentage record by going 28 for 28. Eighteen of those free throws came in the final three minutes of the game, too, representative of some clutch shooting down the stretch. The Cougars are 11-6 overall and 3-2 in conference play.

Washington State, however, is not the Washington State team that went 26-9 last season and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to North Carolina. That team spent most of the season ranked but the graduation of Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill changed the squad considerably.

But the trip to Pullman is never an easy one. It’s arguable the Pac 10’s most remote outpost, just getting there is a chore. And any team coached by Tony Bennett – one of the best in the conference – is always going to be prepared and ready to go. That said, UCLA has not lost to Washington State in Pullman since the 1992-93 season.

It's maybe a little early to call this game a "must win" for UCLA. But consider this:

Two days after Pullman, the Bruins play  Washington in Seattle, where Lorenzo Romar and Company have had Ben Howland's number. So, it's important for UCLA to get a Thursday to eliminate any possibility that the losing streak grows.