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WSU basketball hosts Idaho State to wrap up early homestand

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Cougs have needed second-half comebacks in their first two games.

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars (2-0) host the Idaho State Bengals (0-2) today as the Cougs wrap up their early three-game homestand.

Tip off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PT from Beasley Coliseum. Pac-12 Network has the broadcast on Pac-12 Washington or Pac-12.com.

WSU has needed to come back from a pair of double-digit second-half deficits in its first two games, first from 21 points down to beat Texas Southern, then from 10 points down to beat Seattle U.

Theoretically, the Bengals are the weakest of the three teams, rated No. 321 by kenpom.com. Offensively, they do two things well: Shoot the ball and not turn it over. WSU’s defense has (so far) done a decent job in those two areas.

What the Bengals don’t do well is rebound; their profile makes it appear they’re not even trying for offensive boards, and they’re actually quite bad at securing opponents’ misses, as well. This is an area where the Cougs should find a distinct advantage, particularly on the offensive glass. It appears Ernie Kent is putting more of an emphasis there this year, although it remains to be seen if that’s more of a function of philosophy or opportunity provided by weak competition.

In addition to that, Idaho State should be a prime candidate for WSU to really emphasize its fast break offense: The Cougs have one of the shortest average offensive possession lengths in the country, while the Bengals have one of the shortest on defense. Nearly 30 percent of the Bengals’ opponents’ initial shots come in transition, which is in the bottom quarter of Division I, and they give up a whopping effective field goal percentage of 64 on those shots.

Of course, what everyone really wants to know is if Carter Skaggs is for real — the junior college transfer hit 7-of-8 threes his last time out. There should be plenty of opportunities for him to fire it up in transition.

Don’t be surprised if Idaho State makes some shots early to keep it close or even take a lead, but also don’t be surprised when WSU goes out on a quick run to pull away at some point.

Kenpom.com’s laptop forecasts this as an 80-70 margin with the Cougs winning 81 percent of the time.