The WSU Cougars continue their non-conference schedule tonight when they host Utah Valley at 7 p.m. at Beasley Coliseum. The game is on Pac-12 Network Washington.
At the beginning of the season, this looked on paper like the typical non-conference cupcake that even Ernie Kent’s Cougs should be able to handle with ease. But now ... well, it appears there probably isn’t a team that Ernie Kent’s Cougs can handle with ease.
WSU (3-3) is coming off an 88-76 loss to previously hapless San Jose State on Sunday in which the Cougs lamented yet another uninspired start, which included some thinly veiled criticisms of the fans that didn’t turn out for the game.
Tonight’s not likely to be much better; the students are back in town, but Utah Valley isn’t the kind of opponent that attracts the casual fan, which is what makes up virtually all of WSU’s fans these days. Worse yet, the Wolverines appear to not be the cupcake previously thought.
Utah Valley lost its season opener to Gonzaga, but has won its succeeding four games, most recently a 114-101 regulation victory over BYU that featured a whopping 96 possessions. About the only thing they don’t do well on offense is rebound, and they’re the 18th-best 3-point shooting team in the country so far this season. That doesn’t bode well for WSU, which gives up a ton of 3-point attempts and paid for it last game.
On that front, Conner Toolson and Kenneth Ogbe are the guys most likely to punish WSU — they’re shooting a combined 22-of-40 from behind the arc.
The good news for the Cougs is that Utah Valley’s defense is awful.
For what it’s worth, kenpom.com gives WSU an 80 percent chance of winning the game. Of course, that’s about the same as what it was against San Jose State, which beat the Cougs by double digits.