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Cougars, Privateers meet for first time ever this afternoon

Washington State looks to start a winning streak as New Orleans comes to town.

NCAA Basketball: California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars (4-3) host the New Orleans Privateers (3-3) this afternoon at 3 p.m in Beasley Coliseum.

With college football conference championship games taking priority over most sport fans, this game might be worth checking into during TV timeouts and halftimes.

The Cougars are coming off a too-close-for-comfort 83-76 win against Utah Valley, despite holding a steady 49-31 lead at the end of the first half. As we’ve seen early through the first seven games of the non-conference schedule, WSU should take no opponent lightly as the losses have piled up to teams like Loyola-Chicago and San Jose State, and the Cougs barely held on to beat DII Central Washington 81-76 a few weeks ago.

For New Orleans, the team is coming off a 15-point victory over Tulane and has wins on the season against LaGrange College and Florida College. A tip of the cap is worthy to the Privateers who will have faced two Pac-12 teams (Southern California and Washington State), one Big Ten team (Northwestern), and one Big 12 team (Oklahoma State) before they begin Southland conference play.

Why should I watch this game?

Well, there really isn’t much incentive too with all the great college football on today. However, after Wednesday’s win against UVU, junior forward Derrien King said that the goal is to not lose anymore non-conference home games. Ideally the Cougars can beat the Privateers, along with Idaho, Sacramento State, and Santa Clara who come to town this month.

I haven’t watched a game this season yet, any early impressions?

The biggest impression is that this team will continue to struggle and very well could end up losing all 18 conference games. Through seven games, the Cougars have yet to put on a full 40-minute performance and in a basketball deep conference like the Pac-12, it could be a long winter for Ernie Kent.

Who should I keep an eye on specifically?

Freshman guard Malachi Flynn has easily been one of the most exciting Cougars to watch so far this season. He dropped 27 points on Wednesday against Utah Valley and his teammates called his performance "fascinating". The WIAA 4A Player of the Year from Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma was committed to Pacific before signing with Washington State earlier this year. It’s hard to gauge how well Flynn will play once conference play begins, but he could end up being a diamond in the rough this season.

Anything else I need to know?

This is the first time in history that Washington State and New Orleans have met. In fact, the Cougars have only played three Southland Conference teams in their history with wins in the past against Lamar and Nicholls and a loss to Stephen F. Austin.

Tip-off is set for 3 p.m and the game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks with Rich Burk and Kevin O’Neill on the call.