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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

January 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM

2,632 in Pullman Wednesday night, and did the last fan to leave turn out the lights?

In the latest edition of Pac-12 Men’s Basketball as Studio Sport, both arenas in play Wednesday night probably would have made for a nice place for students to get in some quality studying.

At Washington State, the Cougars drew 2,632 fans, or a little over 20 percent of capacity, for their 66-55 loss to Oregon State. I went to a graduation at Beasley Coliseum a few years ago, and that probably had a better atmosphere.

At USC, where the Trojans beat heretofore undefeated-in-conference Cal, there were 3,523 fans at the Galen Center. USC had been winless in Pac-12 play, and obviously, that’s the key dynamic, but it wasn’t as though the Trojans were playing Cal State-Dominguez Hills.

The Wednesday night made-for-TV games are proving to be a disaster at the gate, not that anybody seems to care.

Two weeks ago, Washington announced 3,424 for its Wednesday-night game with Utah. I was there, and thought the crowd might have been closer to 6,000, and indeed, a UW spokesperson says there was a ticket-scanner problem and some fans who entered earliest weren’t counted.

But even if it was 6,000, Washington’s worst home crowd for a league game last year was 7,753.

So, if you’re defending the league, you say it’s not fair to assess things on the basis of programs that are trending down. Well, last week, Cal, coming off a rousing start that included three straight league road victories, drew 1,276 more for its Saturday game with a fairly dreadful WSU squad than it did for its Wednesday-night game with a Washington team that was then 3-1 in league.

Not that fans would be flocking to see WSU play anyway, but this week’s OSU-Oregon visits are Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon at 4. Good luck trying to build a gate around those times.

This weekend brings another upside-down schedule in the league: Two games on Saturday, and four on Sunday.

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