The Washington State Cougars carry a two-game losing streak to El Paso, Texas, today for a road game against the UTEP Miners.
Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT, with the broadcast appearing on your computer via something called “Stadium,” which will stream the game online on Facebook here. There is no TV broadcast and you must access the game on a Facebook app (no browser).
It’s a game that would seem to present a prime opportunity to get back on the winning track, given the Miners’ 2-6 record and No. 209 ranking by kenpom.com. UTEP had been a mess in the wake of Tim Floyd unexpectedly quitting just five games into the season.
I use the word “had” because the Miners popped up to beat New Mexico — a team kenpom finds to be of roughly the same quality as WSU — by 12 at home in its previous game, last Saturday. It was UTEP’s first win over a Division I team, and it snapped a six-game losing streak.
UTEP features a reasonably strong defense, but unlike the last two reasonably strong defenses the Cougs have faced, the Miners are willing to let opponents shoot away from deep, choosing instead to defend the lane vigorously — their opponents score nearly as many points from three as they do from two, which is highly unusual, and the Cougs score more points from three than they do from two.
Open shots will almost certainly be there from the perimeter, and WSU will need to get back to hitting shots from deep the way it did earlier in the season.
Defensively, the Cougs are facing a bad offense that has cracked 1.0 points per possession just once this season against a Division I opponent. Unfortunately for WSU, that lone occurrence came in the last game; fortunately for WSU, it appears to be the product of some unusually hot shooting and really terrible transition defense from New Mexico.
Will the Cougs bring the defensive intensity that has been so precipitously lacking in the last two games?
The Miners do play pretty fast, so this game has the chance to be pretty entertaining if you’d like to sit in front of your computer for two hours.