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Washington State Cougars Game Preview/Open Thread

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The Huskies welcome Ernesto to Montlake

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Sunday, 1/28/18

Tip-Off Time: 5:00pm PST

TV: ESPNU (A game not on Pac-12 Networks! Who knew such things were allowed?)

Radio: KOMO 1000

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting Line: Washington -7.5

Washington State 2017-18 Statistics:

Record: 9-10 (1-6)

Points For per Game: 75.1 ppg (121st)

Points Against per Game: 75.0 ppg (226th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.6 (112th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 105.3 (198th)

Strength of Schedule: 97th

Washington State Key Players:

For more complete descriptions on each player, check out what I had to say in the preview for the first matchup.

C- Drick Bernstine, Sr. 6’8, 235: 6.8ppg, 7.6rpg, 3.1apg, 49.1% FG, 55% FT

Conference Only Percentages: 44.2% 2 pt, 42.9% FT

F- Robert Franks, Jr. 6’7, 225: 17.7ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.1apg, 48.7% FG, 86.5% FT, 43.2% 3pt

Conference Only Percentages: 50% 2pt, 84.6% FT (6th), 43.2% 3pt (7th)

F- Carter Skaggs, So. 6’5, 215: 9.4ppg, 2.6rpg, 0.7apg, 47.5% FG, 87.5% FT, 47.1% 3pt

Conference Only Percentages: 50% 2pt, 60% FT, 42% 3pt (9th)

G- Viont’e Daniels, So. 6’2, 160: 8.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.8apg, 46% FG, 76.5% FT, 44.4% 3pt

Conference Only Percentages: 55.6% 2 pt, 71.4% FT, 40.7% 3pt (12th)

G- Malachi Flynn, So. 6’1, 177: 15.1ppg, 3.6rpg, 4.0apg, 40.6% FG, 83% FT, 35.4% 3pt

Conference Only Percentages: 51.6% 2pt, 84.6% FT, 34.6% 3pt

The Outlook

The Cougars have staked their claim as the 11th best team in the conference following the couple weeks since these two teams last met. Washington State has one lonely win in conference and it came at home (albeit by 25) against woeful California. However, the Huskies still have to be on upset alert. It was in Pullman but their game against UW is the only loss the Cougars have in conference that was by less than 9 points.

Perhaps the biggest key in this one will be Washington’s ability to make an outside shot. They were 2/12 in the 1st half from 3-point range before giving up at halftime and not attempting one for the rest of the game which helped them overcome a halftime deficit. If that normalizes it will more than make up for the fact that Washington shot a scorching 63% from inside the arc. UW also should be able to shoot more than the 14 free throws they got last time now that they’re in friendly confines. It was a little odd that the hometown Cougs shot 3 more free throws despite attempting 13 less 2-pointers.

When they’re on offense, Washington State wants to do nothing but shoot the ball from outside. They lead the country in percentage of points that come from the long ball and are 36th in the country in 3-point percentage with three guys shooting better than 40%. That’s a clear win for Washington who held the Cougars to 26% shooting from outside in the last meeting and are tops in that category in conference play by holding opponents to 27.4% from deep. It might get closer to 30% this time but I don’t expect Washington State to shoot their average. And it’s yet to be seen that they have an effective plan B.

It should go without saying that a loss here would kill the dream of an NCAA tourney appearance. This is the easiest game remaining on the Huskies’s schedule and they have to take advantage. Especially when they’ll be underdogs in their next 4 games. I think they’ll pull it off though and put away Ernesto and the boys on one of my favorite nights on the Dawg Pack calendar.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 81, Washington State Cougars- 68

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