Washington Huskies Basketball: Pac-12 Play Opens on the Road Against Cougars

James Snook-US PRESSWIRE

UW travels to Pullman to open up their Pac-12 season against the Cougars.

Washington opens up Pac-12 play against the Washington St. Cougars in Pullman this Saturday. After a loss to UConn on the road last weekend, the Huskies concluded their non-conference portion of thire schedule with a record of 8-5. So far, the team has performed below expectations, dropping winnable home games against Albany, Colorado St. and Nevada.

Last Saturday's loss to UConn showcased Washington's inability to create offense when perimeter shots are not falling. More specifically, the team's leading scorer C.J. Wilcox, only scored 5 points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field. Can the Huskies find a way to win when Wilcox's shots are not falling?

Washington (8-5) at Washington St. (9-4)

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013

Pullman, WA. -- Friel Court

6:30 p.m. PT

ESPNU

KJR 950 AM & 102.9 FM

Washington St. Cougars

  • Record: 9-4
  • RPI: No. 193
  • Sagarin: No. 74
  • Coach: Ken Bone (66-50, Fourth season at WSU)
  • Series: Washington leads, 174-100

Personnel:

Senior Brock Motum is the heart and soul of this Cougar team. Motum is both the team's leading scorer (19.7 points per game) and rebounder (7.0 rebounds per game). Complementing Motum in the frontcourt is forward D.J. Shelton (5.5 ppg, 5.8rpg). At 6'10, Shelton is more than capable of containing N'Diaye and causing problems for UW's big man.

In the backcourt, Ken Bone starts three guards; DaVonte Lacy (11.8ppg, 2.7 assists per game), Mike Ladd (8.9ppg, 2.5apg) and Royce Woolridge (7.0ppg, 2.9apg). The team lost Reggie Moore in late September after the senior point guard violated team rules. This development created a void at the point guard position for the Cougars, forcing senior shooting guard Mike Ladd to take over point guard duties.

Analysis:

Besides having better shooters than the Cougars, the Huskies hold an advantage at the point guard position. While Ladd has never played point guard before this season, Abdul Gaddy is one of the most polished point guards in the conference.

Though, Ladd holds a size advantage, Gaddy's savvy and play-making ability should benefit the Huskies on the offensive end. With this said, Gaddy and company can not get in foul trouble. Both Gaddy and N'Diaye got in foul trouble early against UConn, negatively affecting their play for the rest of the game; the two shot a combined 4-for-13 from the field.

To beat the Cougars, you have to contain Brock Motum. The Huskies will have to find a creative way to hold Motum below his season scoring average of 19.7 points per game. At 6'10, he creates a matchup problem for UW starting forward Desmond Simmons who is 6'7. Motum can hit the open three and take his man to the baseline and make shots in that area of the court.

The Cougars' offense runs through Motum, with several sets utilizing Motum at the high post. Expect to see Motum setting screens at the wing and then popping out for a potential three-pointer or rolling towards the basket for a high percentage shot.

Motum is only a 32.5% three-point shooter, but went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc against a close loss to Gonzaga in early December. The Huskies need to force him and Lacy (41.3% from three) to put the ball on the floor and prevent them from having catch-and-shoot opportunities.

The Cougs have yet to beat a team from a BCS conference, but they have played close games against the likes Gonzaga and Texas A&M. The Huskies have not inspired any confidence to make their fans believe they can go and win a game on the road. I'm not feeling good about this one.

Prediction: Washington St. 63, Washington 60

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