Sunday Washington will play host to their cross-state rivals, the Washington State Cougars. The two teams met earlier this season in Pullman, and Washington came out the victor, beginning their four-game win streak to start conference play. Washington comes into this game having won two of their last three games (cherry picked stat alert!) while WSU has been Cougin' it with the best of them, losing their last eight games and ten of their last 11.
Ken Bone's squad has been struggling, there is no doubt about that.They lost both games to the Arizona teams last week by double-digits. As much as many Husky fans may revel in the struggles of the Cougars, it is sad to see a former Washington assistant in Bone struggling to perform up to expectations.
Brock Motum has been a very similar player to last season, except that he is shooting 10% worse. This can be mostly attributed to his cold shooting as of late. In conference play Motum is shooting 40%, or not that great. He is shooting poorly from three-point territory, just a shade above 20%, which is the large reason for the poor shooting, considering he is in the top-15 for three-point attempts on the season. Expect to see a lot of Desmond Simmons on Motum, and Aziz N'Diaye as well, for stretches.
After Motum, WSU relies on senior guard Mike Ladd for scoring. Ladd will probably be defended by Suggs, who Romar has used to guard an opponent's best wing for the majority of this season. Suggs will need to box out the senior, otherwise he could kill Washington on the glass, as he is one of the best rebounding guards in the conference.
Overall, Washington State runs a very slow-paced game, the slowest in the conference. If you are looking for an exciting, up-and-down game, this is a time to avert your eyes. The game will be a grind-it-out affair, with neither team running any sort of a fast-paced offense.
WSU shoots pretty well from deep, third in the conference in three-point shooting. Washington is dead last. Yes, you read that right. A team that has C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs as two of the top-three scorers is dead last in the conference in three-point shooting percentage. Both of those two have been cold, with Suggs hitting his stride in the last game against ASU. Personally I get the feeling that Wilcox will have a game that busts him out of his slump, as it almost feels as if he is due. Those familiar with the gambler's fallacy know I am wrong, and I know that I am wrong. He is not "due" but it feels as if he could just break out one of these games. He very well could, everyone knows he has it in him. It depends on the health of his foot, probably.
N'Diaye will be banging down low with Junior D.J. Shelton. Shelton isn't the rebounder or scorer that N'Diaye is, but has the size to at the very least bother the big man from Senegal at 6-10, 250.
Another player who could just bust out and have a monster game is DaVonte Lacy. Lacy has gone over 20 points three times this season, with the most recent being 27 points in WSU's one-point defeat at the hands of Craig Robinson's Oregon State Beavers. If Lacy gets hot from outside, Washington's defense could be in for a long day, as he can be near-unstoppable when he does well.
Here is the PAC-12 Networks' video talking about how Washington could still make a run in the tournament. It doesn't preview this game as much as it talks about the Huskies, but it is talking about the Huskies, so watch it maybe!