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Preview: WSU ends mountain swing with trip to Utah

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The Cougars are on a five-game skid.

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars will try to snap a pair of losing streaks — five games overall and 16 games at this particular location — when they take on the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City.

Tip off is at 5 p.m. PT, and the game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks. You can also stream the game via Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app on your favorite handheld device.

The Cougs are fresh off their worst performance of the year, a 92-60 beatdown at the hands of the Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday. That was the third consecutive game without leading scorer Robert Franks, who did not make the trip and will not play tonight, either.

CJ Elleby, who has shouldered the load in his absence, finally came back down to earth, scoring just 6 points in 18 minutes. If there’s a silver lining in that, it’s that his tired legs got just a little bit of a rest; he had played more than 36 minutes in each of the previous three games, and greater than 30 in the previous 10. That’s a big ask of any freshman, and Elleby is an active player all over the floor, so let’s hope he’s got a little juice left after Thursday’s stinker because the Utes aren’t actually very good and might be there for the taking — WSU’s all-time 0-16 record against them notwithstanding.

The Utes have always had a pretty good defense under Larry Krystkowiak, but this year they are a disaster — their adjusted defensive efficiency rank (289th) is almost as bad WSU’s (300th). Let that sink in. But that’s actually probably good news for you, the viewer, as there should be plenty of shots going through the basket tonight. The Utes are particularly poor at defending the three-point line, so maybe WSU can win the three-point lottery and somehow escape with a win.

The Cougars win just one out of every four matchups in kenpom.com’s simulations and lose by an average of seven points.