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WSU 85, USC 77: Cougs Live to Fight Another Day

This was about as bipolar a game as you'll find.

The Cougs got off to a great start on defense... then lost Reggie Moore to a sprained right ankle midway through the first half.

The Cougs didn't let the loss of Moore phase them at first, jumping out to as much as a 17 point lead. Then the second half started, and the Cougs were forced to play hang-on basketball for the second straight game. Still, they did, and came away with a big win and a record above .500 in conference.

There's been a lot of hyperbole this year about the next game being the biggest game of the year. Well, Saturday, UCLA truly is the biggest game of the year. WSU plays a team that is more talented, but also a team they are fully capable of defeating, especially at home. This is where we find out if the Cougars are a Bubble Team heading into the Pac-10 tournament, or destined to stay home in March.

I don't want to fan the flames of the "is this team underachieving" argument going around... so I won't. Let's all just relax and see if the Cougs can come through when everything is on the line. And it will be Saturday.

Factor USC WSU
Off Eff 116.0 130.8
eFG% 53.2 58.5
TO % 16.6 13.8
O Reb % 33.3 36.0
D Reb % 64.0 66.7
FT Rate 25.8 56.6


Player of the Game: DeAngelo Casto. 24 points, 10 rebounds, on 10 of 11 shooting. 4 of 6 from the line. He's good.

Right Hand Man: Faisal Aden. Tonight we saw Aden at his most brilliant, and also at his absolute worst. The former came predominately on offense, and the latter on defense. Still, he shot 8 of 14 in Reggie's absence, drove the lane well, snatched 5 rebounds and dished 2 assists. 20 points in total. Aden is an X-factor to the extreme. I have to think with Casto and Klay's consistency, it's impossible to stop WSU when Aden is on.

Unsung Hero: Klay Thompson. Probably one of the most underappreciated 22 point outbursts you'll ever see. He didn't score efficiently (6 of 17), but he did everything else well.

Play of the Game: Motum's three was fun, but I have to go with Faisal Aden's offensive rebound and put-back with 1:41 remaining. That was a phenomenal hustle play with the season on the line. The Cougs led 75-70 before that basket went in.

It was over when... The Cougs made eight straight free throws to close out the game.

Stat of the Game: A 130.8 offensive efficiency rating against the second-best defense in Pac-10 conference play. That's great, because number one comes to town in two days. Get well soon, Reggie.