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WSU hopeful for return of Noah Williams against Arizona State

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TJ Bamba could also return from injury tonight, but nothing is concrete.

PULLMAN, WA - FEBRUARY 20: Washington State guard Noah Williams (24) throws up a prayer prior to a Pac 12 matchup between the Stanford Cardinal and the Washington State Cougars on February 20, 2021, at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, WA. Jack Ellis/CougCenter

On the heels of an emotional Apple Cup win in Seattle on Friday, Washington State basketball was looking to keep the party going Saturday night in Pullman. The Cougs, who were without Noah Williams and TJ Bamba, took on Eastern Washington in Beasley Coliseum. Even without those two key players, things started off well enough. The team rolled in the first half and entered the break with a 12 point lead over the Eagles. But WSU could not hit a shot down the stretch and fell to the Eags 76-71 in their first defeat of the season.

Now, the Cougs hit the road for their toughest test of the season so far. They’ll open up Pac-12 play against Arizona State tonight in Tempe. WSU would love to have Bamba and Williams back in the rotation to start their early conference slate but there head coach says he can’t say for sure if they will suit up.

“Hopefully Noah (can play),” Smith told the media on Tuesday, “We’ll know more about TJ today. They’re going the right direction. Nothing concrete, but we’ll see. I feel confident that we’ll have one of them.”

Whether one or both of those players returns tonight, the Cougs need to step things up in Tempe. The offense took a major step back on Saturday after leading the way through their first five games. WSU posted less than a point per possession and shot just 33% from inside the arc, nearly half of their average entering the game.

The Cougs are young and games like Saturday and bound to happen. That makes tonight’s matchup all that more important as they try and start Pac-12 play on the right foot heading into a showdown with #20 USC in Pullman this weekend.

Tip-off in Tempe is set for tonight at 4:30 p.m. pacific on the Pac-12 Network.

Links:

WSU MBB: Kyle Smith Press Conference 11/30/21 - YouTube
Kyle Smith speaks to the media ahead of WSU's game Wednesday night against Arizona State.

After suffering upset loss, Washington State heads into Pac-12 play searching for more cohesion | Washington State University | khq.com
With Pac-12 play around the corner, Washington State can feel confident in the caliber of its talent, though coach Kyle Smith said his new-look Cougars remain an “unformed team,” a work in progress that must mature if it plans on making noise in this conference.

Pac-12 bowl projections: Oregon to the Rose Bowl, ASU to Las Vegas
Wilner has WSU pegged to head back to El Paso for another Sun Bowl berth.

Cougs Return to Beasley This Thursday for a Matinee Against USF - Washington State University Athletics
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State women's basketball team returns to Beasley Coliseum this Thursday, Dec. 2, as the Cougars host San Francisco.