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WSU vs. Idaho: Game time, TV and online streaming information

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The Cougs head out for their first road game of the season ... all the way to Moscow.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars (5-1) will finally venture out of Pullman this basketball season, traveling all of eight miles across the border to take on the Idaho Vandals (5-5) on Thursday to renew one of the longest rivalries in college sports.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. from Moscow, and it will be broadcast on SWX TV in Spokane and the Tri-Cities. If you don't get that, you'll be able to stream it online for free at this link. You can also listen to the radio broadcast online at TuneIn.com.

Idaho is another not-very-good team in the parade of not-very-good teams that Ernie Kent has scheduled for his Cougs to start this season. The Vandals are rated 297th by kenpom.com -- or, approximately 20-30 spots worse than three teams (Northern Arizona, Texas Southern and Portland State) WSU has already beaten by a combined 48 points.

Of course, Idaho was rated 230th last season when the Vandals beat WSU in Pullman, so you can just throw the records out when these two rivals play each other!

I say that mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it is kind of true; while this game isn't much of a rivalry among fans, it definitely is with the players, who cross paths relatively often thanks to the proximity of the two campuses. These games do tend to be close: The last four have been decided by a combined 18 points.

That said, there's a distinct possibility that the Cougars roll tonight. The Vandals are really, really struggling to score points, thanks largely to big-time problems in the paint: Idaho ranks in the 300s nationally in 2-point percentage. The Vandals don't get to the rim very often, and when they do, they convert just 47 percent of their shots at the rim, per hoop-math.com -- eighth worst in the entire country. (For context, WSU converts 63 percent of those shots.)

When a team that already struggles to make shots at the rim is facing a team with a lot of big bodies that blocks about 1 in 5 opponents' 2-pointers (18 percent, 3rd nationally) ... that could mean a very long night for Idaho's offense. This is basically the same problem Portland State faced, and the Cougars held the Vikings -- who ostensibly have a better offense than Idaho -- to a paltry 0.85 points per possession.

Idaho simply hasn't found a suitable replacement for point guard Mike Scott, who torched the Cougs last year and was one of the best players in the Big Sky. The Vandals turn the ball over a ton, and taking the ball away is another one of the Cougars' strengths.

It's so bad for Don Verlin, he actually has just two players considered to be statistically above average -- only junior guard Perrion Callendret and sophomore wing Victor Sanders have offensive ratings above 102 (104 and 109, respectively). No other player is player over 95.

On the offensive side, the Cougars would do well to attack the rim as much as possible; Idaho has a reasonable field goal percentage allowed, but the Vandals put opponents on the line a lot. WSU has been one of the worst teams in the country and getting to the line, despite playing overmatched opponents, so it will be interesting to see if the Cougars are able to take advantage of this weakness.

One guy I'd like to see get on track for WSU is Renard Suggs. He has the look of a nice scorer off the bench, but he's had a couple of rough games -- just 5 points combined in the last two games on 1-of-13 shooting with zero assists and 5 turnovers. Ouch.

Conversely, Charles Callison is starting to really come around at the point guard spot. This is the sort of game where each of them should be able to feast.

Despite all this, kenpom.com predicts just a four-point victory for WSU with the Cougars winning two thirds of the time. I'd be pretty surprised if it's that close -- Idaho is bad, and the Cougars are playing decent ball right now.

But hey ... rivalry game, right? RIGHT?