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PREVIEW: Cougs battle Colorado State for prestigious fifth place (plus game thread/stream/radio info)

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Washington State tries to get its second win at the beach when it faces Colorado State on Wednesday.

Cayman Islands Classic Colorado State Washington State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars will try to leave the beach with a winning record when they face the Colorado State Rams in the fifth-place game at the Cayman Islands Classic on Wednesday (10:30 am PT). Each team lost their opening round matchup before recovering with a win on Tuesday.

Colorado State used a 10-0 run over the final minutes and a buzzer beater to take down Loyola-Chicago. The Cougs utilized a dominant defensive second half in cruising to a comfortable 66-50 win over Old Dominion.

Here’s how to follow the game. Again, you gotta pay for the video stream but the radio feed is free and so are the stats, all linked in this tweet from WSU’s twitter account:

WSU’s big win over ODU took them from No. 161 to No. 143 on KenPom.com. That helped them leap No. 148 Colorado State (who was previously No. 151), and make the Cougs slight favorites instead of slight underdogs against the Rams. That doesn’t mean much, obviously—these are the same two teams they would have been yesterday, and it only means WSU is 51 percent to win instead of 49 percent.

What really matters is the matchups. The Rams will be a much more challenging offense to defend than Old Dominion. They feature a solid inside-outside mixture of attacking the basket and shooting 3s—38 percent of CSU’s shots come at the rim and 39 percent are on 3s, less than a quarter are in the midrange.

Colorado State is led on the interior by 6’11 Nico Carvacho. He draws a lot of fouls—7.3 per 40 minutes, and shoots a lot of free throws. He doesn’t shoot that well when he gets to the line, just under 55 percent, but he will be a challenge. The fact that he, and freshman David Roddy, draw so many fouls leads to more free throws for everyone else on the team.

On the perimeter, watch out for point guard Isaiah Stevens. The freshman is knocking down more than half of his 3s. Sophomore forward Adam Thistlewood takes roughly two-thirds of his shots from beyond the arc, and hits over 40 percent.

When WSU has the ball, Colorado State should do good job limiting free throw attempts, but that may come at the expense of easy interior looks. The Rams allow opponents to shoot 68.5 percent at the rim overall, and 72.4 percent when the shot isn’t blocked. Luckily for CSU, they don’t allow too many interior shots—just under 31 percent are at the rim.

Colorado State does allow almost 34 percent shooting on 3-pointers (about one percent above the national average this year). They allow 3-point attempts at a higher rate than shots at the rim or mid-range shots, so there will be some open looks on the outside. The Rams do their best shutting down 2-point jumpers, so it may be a struggle if the Cougs aren’t getting to the rim when they venture inside the arc.

Washington State’s offense put together its best effort, when taking the quality of defense into account, against Old Dominion. A lot of that was driven by a second scorer emerging to have an efficient day. It was Marvin Cannon last game, and if that person doesn’t emerge this time around it will be the “CJ Elleby or nothing” offense that has failed the Cougs often in the second half. Isaac Bonton finally putting together an effective shooting performance would also help—he has had an extremely difficult start to the season.

Should be a close one, and a good test to see if WSU’s defensive and offensive improvement against ODU was a one-off or a sign of things to come.