UW men at Washington State
3 p.m. today at Friel Court
TV/Radio: FSN/KJR (950 AM), KPTK (1090 AM), KHHO (850 AM).
Records: Washington 11-6, 1-5 Pac-10; Washington State 15-3, 4-2.
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Next UW game: Oregon State, 8 p.m. Thursday, Edmundson Pavilion.
There may be no greater difference in the teams than this position. Consider that Washington State leads the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.41, while the Huskies are seventh at 1.02. The Cougars have two capable ballhandlers in Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low, while the Huskies have been searching for some stability at this spot in recent games with Justin Dentmon benched, then seemingly finding his way back in favor. The Huskies need Dentmon to find his old form.
Edge: Washington State
Low now plays here primarily and leads the Cougars in scoring. But he has been erratic of late, shooting just 38 percent in Pac-10 play. Adrian Oliver has been starting for Washington and is solid overall, but is not yet much of a scorer and also is battling a quadriceps bruise. Ryan Appleby is the Huskies’ main scorer at this spot but has been inconsistent all year; in his past four games he has scored 7, 20, 5 and 11 points.
Edge: Washington State.
Sophomore Daven Harmeling has been a revelation for the Cougars, shooting 54.5 percent on three-pointers in Pac-10 play and averaging a team-high 12.8 points in conference games. He missed last season due to injury. Quincy Pondexter seemed to be hitting the freshman wall before suffering an ankle injury at California last Saturday that could limit him today. He has scored just 13 points in his past three games. Freshman Phil Nelson is the starter here, but also is struggling, having gone scoreless against Cal.
Edge: Washington State.
Jon Brockman is coming off one of his worst games, but he has been Washington’s most consistent player of late and is second in the Pac-10 in rebounding (9.8) and fifth in shooting (55 percent). He has scored in double figures the past five games and has eight double-doubles this season. Ivory Clark has started the past three games for the Cougars and averaged 15 points in the past two. Edge: Washington.
Before being slowed by a virus/flu bug, the Huskies’ Spencer Hawes had been emerging as one of the best freshmen in the country. He still ranks 10th in the Pac-10 in scoring (15.2) and is third in blocks (1.88). Robbie Cowgill, second on the Cougars in scoring a year ago, is fifth this season but has started to come on after a slow start, scoring in double figures four of the past five games. Edge: Washington.
Washington’s expected depth has taken a hit due to injuries and transfers this season. The Huskies have seven players averaging 21 minutes or more in conference play, with no one else playing more than nine. Dentmon has provided a spark off the bench the past two games but could return to a starting role. The Cougars, who thinned their rotation with the beginning of conference play, got just 13 points from bench players in two games in the Bay Area. Edge: Even.
The Cougars are on a roll and will likely be playing in front of their largest home crowd in 12 years. The Huskies, meanwhile, are desperate for a win. Washington, statistically, is shooting and rebounding better, even when considering only Pac-10 games. The Cougars have the better defense. WSU also has more experience, with one senior and three juniors in the regular lineup. That, again, will prove pivotal today as the Cougars hold on to win a close one.
Prediction: Washington State 71, Washington 67.