It was a slow week for Washington State men's basketball, but it ends with a bang on Saturday. That's when the Cougars square off against rival Washington at Bank of America Arena in Seattle.
Washington State (14-6; 4-4) hasn't played its best conference basketball on the road on the weekend. The Cougars played arguably their two worst Pac-10 games, a 71-46 loss to Arizona State and a 74-62 loss to UCLA, on Sunday and Saturday, respectively. The biggest difference is that WSU hasn't played another game this week. They've been able to focus on the Dawgs and the Dawgs only.
Washington (13-7; 3-5) is coming off a huge 123-76 win against Seattle University on Tuesday. The Huskies will have a big time home court advantage this weekend. The Dawgs don't typically lose at home (they are 13-1 in Seattle), but it can happen. Oregon beat UW at Hec Ed 90-79 on January 2nd. The big question is...can the Cougars pull off the same feat 28 days later?
Expect a lot of scoring on Saturday. The Cougars average 77 points per game, while the Huskies register 81 points per contest. A big part of the matchup will be determined on the glass. There will be a lot of shots taken (which means a lot of shots missed), so the team who dominates the boards will have an advantage (the Huskies average 38.6 rebounds per game, while the Cougs average 35.7).
Wazzu needs Klay Thompson to show up. That's weird to say because the sophomore averages more than 22 points per game. The truth is...he's been inconsistent in Pac-10 play. His two single-digit outputs this year came against Oregon State (seven points) and Arizona State (nine points). Thompson also struggled last week against UCLA, scoring 13 points on 5-for-17 shooting from the field. If Thompson heats up...anything can happen.
This is a homecoming for WSU freshman Reggie Moore. He graduated from Rainier Beach High School in Seattle and played on the Huskies home floor quite a bit when he was a youngster. His family and friends will be in attendance. That's a lot of pressure for a 20-year-old. In his other game in the Emerald City (against LSU at KeyArena), Moore scored 12 points and handed out four assists.
As for the Huskies, they'll lean heavily on their big two. Quincy Pondexter averages 20 points and eight rebounds per game, while Isaiah Thomas registers more than 17 points and three assists on average. Venoy Overton is capable of scoring (8.8 ppg), but is more of a pest defensively (he is a dirty player, but he doesn't always get called for fouls). He can have a major impact on the game as well.
Washington can use a whole range of lineups. They have ten guys on their roster who average ten or more minutes per game. The Cougars who typically use a smaller lineup could have a tough time matching up with the Huskies. It will be interesting to see how this game shakes out.
I haven't seen a spread for the game yet, but I'll be sure to update this when it comes out. My old friend (I don't actually know him...I just like his website) Ken Pomeroy has the Huskies beating the Cougars, 86-76. He only gives the Cougars a 21-percent chance of victory.
UPDATE: I just checked the line again...the Huskies opened as an eight point favorite on Saturday.
Tip-off is slated 12:30pm on Saturday in Seattle. The game will be televised on FSN. We'll have all the highlights on KREM 2 News and KREM.com.
We talked to Ken Bone, Reggie Moore, Nikola Koprivica, and DeAngelo Casto at practice on Thursday. Click here to watch their uncut interviews.