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Washington State Cougars Game Preview and Open Thread

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The Huskies travel to Pullman hoping to avenge their last meeting with the Cougars

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Sunday, 2/26/17


Tip-Off Time: 5:30pm PST


TV: ESPNU


Radio: Komo 1000

Washington St. Statistics:


Record: 7-5


Points For per Game: 70.2 ppg (235th)


Points Against per Game: 76.6 ppg (260th)


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 104.8 (173rd)


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 107.6 (222nd)

Washington St. Key Players:


C- Conor Clifford, So. 7-0, 260: 9.4ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.0apg, 59.1% FG, 87% FT


Clifford is a surprisingly ineffective rebounder given his size. However, he converts at an exceptional rate around the basket and should give the porous UW post defense fits if he can get the ball consistently down low.


F- Josh Hawkinson, Sr. 6-10, 230: 15.3ppg, 10.2rpg, 2.4apg, 51.4% FG, 83% FT, 36.7% 3pt


Hawkinson continues to be the best player for Wazzu, averaging a full double-double. He’s one of the best rebounders in the country and it’s going to be difficult for UW to consistently get second chances on offense while he’s on the floor.


G- Ike Iroegbu, Sr. 6-2, 195: 12.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.7apg, 45.2% FG, 68.7% FT, 35.1% 3pt


Iroegbu is mister reliable for the Cougars as he has played in every single game for the Cougars over the past 4 seasons. He’s extremely athletic as the team’s second leading rebounder at just 6-2.


G- Charles Callison, Sr. 6-0, 185: 8.7ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.1apg, 45.1% FG, 83.3% FT, 41.6% 3pt


Callison has been on fire as a deep threat for Washington State, hitting on 45.7% of deep shots in conference play. He'll likely get opportunities against the Huskies' zone to end up something like 4-8 from the floor with 3 three-pointers and 11 points.


G- Malachi Flynn, Fr. 6-1, 170: 10.8ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.9apg, 43.2% FG, 73.9% FT, 41.8% 3pt


As could be expected from a true freshman, Flynn has cooled off considerably in conference play. Despite hitting a bit of a wall, Flynn is always a dangerous threat from beyond the arc and his game against the Huskies is the only one this season in which he has had at least 15 points and at least 6 assists.

The Outlook


The Cougars have been an opportunist to this point in conference play. They are 5-2 against the other teams in the bottom half of the conference and 0-8 against everyone else. Luckily for them, they get a badly struggling Huskies team. Washington State was in almost as big of a slump as Washington before beating Arizona State by their widest margin since a mid-November victory over Montana. The Cougars were able to catch fire from deep in that game, hitting 44% of their 3-point attempts.


There are several categories in which Washington State has been not only the worst team in the conference but one of the bottom teams in the entire country. They can't get an offensive rebound to save their life which means every missed basket by Wazzu will represent weakness on weakness. The Dawgs are a putrid 297th in preventing offensive rebounds but the Cougars are an even worse 346th in securing them so something will have to give tonight.


On defense, the Cougars don't apply any kind of pressure as they are 343rd in the country in turnover percentage. Whether from steals or offensive rebounds, the Cougars are essentially unable to create extra possessions. That means that all UW has to do is shoot better than the Cougs in order to win this game. However, that could be a problem. Washington State is 4th in the conference in shooting percentage on 2's, 3's, and FTs in conference play. The Huskies meanwhile are 9th, 11th, and 12th in those categories respectively.


The last two games against Arizona and Arizona State both came down to the last second and the Huskies are flat out due for one to go their way. Kenpom.com features a metric called Luck which looks at the difference between the actual and expected win percentages for each team given their efficiency numbers on the season. The Cougars are 26th in the country, meaning that their win-loss record has greatly outperformed their true talent level. Meanwhile, UW is 340th. With the return of Malik Dime to the lineup I'm giving the Dawgs the benefit of the doubt that they will finally catch a break.

Prediction


Washington Huskies- 80, Washington State Cougars- 79


Edit: It was announced that Markelle Fultz will not play in the game tonight with the same knee injury that kept him out of the games against Colorado and Utah the last two games. Obviously that drastically changes things.


New Prediction


Washington Huskies- 72, Washington State Cougars- 84