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Cougs, Vandals ready to renew longest running basketball rivalry west of Mississippi

If you think think the WSU basketball program is in bad shape... Then just take a look at what’s been happening in Moscow, Idaho.

Seattle v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Washington State basketball and Idaho basketball have met plenty of times before. They’ve met 274 times to be exact. It’s a rivalry that dates back to 1906 when WSU topped Idaho 28-11. Washington State has dominated the series, but things have taken a turn recently.

Idaho has won three of the last five meetings including a 91-64 drubbing back in 2017, the last meeting in Moscow. Washington State won last year at home, but major aspects of both programs have changed since that 2018 meeting.

As you probably know, Kyle Smith was named head coach at WSU in March replacing the fired Ernie Kent. But things were a bit messier at the University of Idaho. After 11 season at the helm in Moscow, head coach Don Verlin was placed on administrative leave and eventually fired in June after the university self-reported a trio of NCAA rule violations. In his place, long-time assistant Zac Claus was named to the interim job.

If all of that turnover makes you think that the Vandals are a team in turmoil... Well... Then you’re right. The team entered the season with 10 newcomers and just one returning senior in Trevon Allen. The rag-tag group started the season on a down note with back-to-back exhibition losses to Division II Central Washington and NAIA Lewis-Clark State. Since then, Idaho is 3-5 with wins coming over The Evergreen State, VMI and Walla Walla University.

Washington State, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back after a rough stretch of games. The Cougs lost to Omaha at home two weeks ago, then headed to the Cayman Islands where they dropped two out of three on their way to a 6th place finish.

Both teams will be looking to change the path of their season in the 275th meeting between the programs. While not exactly the most meaningful rivalry in sports, the Battle for the Palouse is notable as one of the longest running continuous series in college basketball. The two teams have met 114 straight seasons, making it the sixth-longest continuous series in the country (behind five Ivy League matchups) and the longest running series west of the Mississippi.

Tip off is set for 7 p.m. from the Cowan Spectrum in the Kibbie Dome. If you have cable or over the air TV, viewers in the Spokane or Tri-City TV markets can watch on SWX. If you don’t have cable or live outside of those markets, you can watch on Idaho’s Pluto TV stream.


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