The Washington State Cougars (8-7 overall, 0-3 Pac-12) missed out on a chance at their first conference victory last Saturday, but they have what looks like another decent chance tonight when the Stanford Cardinal visit Beasley Coliseum.
Tip off is at 6 p.m. PT and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU. If you are an ESPN subscriber, you also can watch the game via WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app on your phone.
Then again, there’s a chance this game isn’t as winnable as it once appeared. The Cardinal had floundered for most of the season, dropping to 6-8 overall after losing their conference home opener to woeful Cal. But then came last weekend, with a pair of home victories over UCLA and USC.
Now, the win over UCLA came in double OT, and the win over USC required this sequence:
But still: UCLA and USC beat WSU by a combined 32 points. On the road ... but still.
The Cardinal feature a mediocre offense that appears to be largely fueled by an ability to get into the lane and either make a shot (52 percent on 2s, 111th nationally) or get to the free throw line (42 percent FTA/FGA ratio, 22nd nationally).
The good news for WSU? They’re usually good at keeping teams off the free throw line, and playing at home should help in that regard.
The bad news: WSU has been atrocious in its 2-point defense in Pac-12 play, as opponents are hitting 60 percent of those shots. That’s worst in the conference.
Reid Travis is Stanford’s most dangerous man, and he figures to be a matchup nightmare for the Cougs — he’s only 6-8, but he’s a thick 245. Drick Bernstine likely draws the assignment initially, but he had foul trouble issues on Saturday against another physical big man, Noah Dickerson.
Travis also is a good offensive rebounder, while Bernstine is equally so as a defensive rebounder. That figures to be a key matchup to watch.
Freshman point guard Daejon Davis — the one-time protege of WSU assistant Ed Haskins while both were at Garfield High School in Seattle — has been inconsistent for Stanford, as freshmen often are. His biggest bugaboo has been turnovers: He’s had seven games of five or more turnovers.
He’s not shy about being aggressive (he’s also got an excellent free throw rate and is good at finishing around the basket) and although WSU doesn’t typically take the ball away much, it’ll be interesting to see if the Cougs can draw something up to try and get him to cough up the ball and get the transition game going. I’d expect Viont’e Daniels to draw this assignment.
The three main candidates to draw duty on Robert Franks are Travis, Michael Humphrey and Kezie Okpala. They’ve got 15 fouls between them, and they’ll use them. Franks has sometimes disappeared for long stretches; if he’s assertive tonight, he could put Stanford in a difficult spot, as he has an athleticism advantage over Travis and Humphreys and an experience advantage over the freshman Okpala.
- Stanford doesn’t shoot many 3s, but the Coug defense invites them. Will the Cardinal oblige? They’ve got a few guys who have the ability to hurt WSU out there (Humphrey, Davis, Isaac White, Oscar Da Silva).
- The Cougs have turned the ball over a ton in their three conference games, and that’s sabotaged a lot of what they want to get going. The Stanford defense doesn’t put a lot of pressure on opponents in that regard. Can WSU stay out of its own way tonight?
- Stanford allows a fair amount of 3s, and their opponents have made them at a good clip. There should be plenty of open looks from deep for the Cougs tonight.
Between the No. 124 Cardinal and No. 159 Cougs, it’s a coin flip: An average score of 74-72 with WSU winning 54 percent of the time.
Could be entertaining. Could be ugly. Either way, the Cougs could win!