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WSU hosts New Mexico State for Cougs’ toughest test yet

Don’t let the Aggies’ record fool you.

Omaha v Washington State
Isaac Bonton
Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

The Washington State Cougars face what might be their toughest test so far of Kyle Smith’s first season when they host the New Mexico State Aggies in Spokane today.

Tip off is scheduled for noon, and the game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network and also and also Pac-12 Now on some of your favorite streaming devices, provided you have a cable subscription.

Don’t let the Aggies’ 5-4 overall record — which is only slightly better than WSU’s (4-4) — fool you. NMSU is a solid midmajor team; they’re ranked 90th by as their four losses came away to a solid UTEP, away to Arizona, home by a point to a similarly ranked New Mexico, and in the championship of a holiday tournament to George Mason, another solid midmajor.

That said, they haven’t performed up to their preseason projection of 64th, and there are reasons to think the Cougs can put up a good showing today in a game they are forecast by to lose about two-thirds of the time.

The Aggies feature a strong offense that is powered by one of the better offensive rebounding attacks in the country. The Cougars, meanwhile, are one of the better defensive rebounding teams in the country. WSU’s only really struggled on the defensive glass against bigger teams, and the Aggies aren’t that — their main rotation tops out with guys who are 6-7 and 6-8, much like WSU. Controlling the defensive glass will be key.

Additionally, the Aggies are one of the poorest teams in the country at taking care of the ball — and the Cougars are one of the best at taking it away.

Turnovers also will be key on the other end. Much like the Cougars, the Aggies’ defense is powered largely by takeaways; however, WSU is the best team in the country at taking care of the basketball — they turn the ball over on 12% of possessions.

So, it’s probably as simple as this: Control the defensive glass and hold a decisive advantage in turnovers and WSU likely wins.