The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. PT from Beasley Coliseum in Pullman and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network, which means you also can watch the game at Pac-12.com or listen to the WSU IMG radio broadcast via TuneIn.com.
It's possible this one will be influenced by motivation. UCLA dropped its opener on Friday against Washington, a double-overtime contest that didn't feature a lot of great offense -- there were 90(!) free throw attempts -- but did feature a whopping 94 possessions and nearly 200 points. Will the Bruins are desperate to get back in the win column ... or just tired?
Meanwhile, WSU turned in a mostly lifeless effort in a blowout loss to USC on Friday. There should be some more fans in the crowd tonight, but the students will still be enjoying their last week off from school. Will the Cougars be determined to prove that their flat opener was a fluke ... or will they succumb early again to a more talented team?
Point guard Bryce Alford, son of head coach Steve, will be one to keep an eye on in this regard. He played 48 of a possible 50 minutes, and with the exception of a pair of clutch 3s -- one in the last 10 seconds of regulation to send the game to OT, one in the last 15 seconds of OT to send it to a second overtime -- he had an awful shooting night, going 5-of-21 overall. He did score 31 points, though, thanks to shooting 17-of-18 from the free throw line.
Alford's typically pretty good at getting to the line, even when the refs aren't blowing the whistle 58 times. Will he have the legs to penetrate today, though?
Another Bruin to know is forward Tony Parker, who -- at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds -- is a load around the basket and a monster on the glass. Boxing him out defensively will be paramount, as he collects 16 percent of his team's misses when he's on the floor, 23rd nationally.
As you know, defensive rebounding has been an issue from time to time for WSU, and I imagine Connor Clifford will spend a lot of time defending Parker with his girth. He's going to have to step up to neutralize Parker. Additionally, when Valentine Izundu is in the game, I presume Izundu will be marking Parker; if Izundu hunts blocks as hard as he sometimes does, it could leave Parker free to do a lot of damage.
It feels like beating a dead horse, but turnovers again will be big for WSU.
Offensively, it's how the game got out of hand against USC, and generally how WSU's offense is held in check since the Cougs are a pretty good shooting team. UCLA doesn't generally force a lot of them -- the Bruins are in the 200s nationally in defensive steal percentage -- it likely will simply be a matter of concentration for the Cougs.
Defensively, the Cougar defense has been at its best when it's taking the ball away a bit, too. UCLA isn't particularly good at taking care of the ball, either, so the defense could get a sizeable boost from forcing some turnovers by the Bruins.