Who: UW (19-8, 10-5) vs WSU (17-10, 7-8) <..."/> Who: UW (19-8, 10-5) vs WSU (17-10, 7-8) <..."/>

Game Preview: WSU

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by Craig Yamada

Who: UW (19-8, 10-5) vs WSU (17-10, 7-8)

When: Sunday, 7 PM

Where: The Hangar at Hec Ed

TV: FSN

The last image Isaiah Thomas and the Dawgs have of their in-state rivals is a sea of red storming the court after their 80-87 loss in late January. The then ranked #17 Huskies underwhelmed and underperformed in their last game at Pullman. The setting has now shifted back to the comfort of Hec Ed and the Huskies will be seeking retribution on their home floor. UW is coming off a win against Seattle U entering Sunday’s game and have won 4 of their last 5. The Cougs on the other hand have taken a nose dive ever since beating the Huskies. After vowing to “run the table” on the Pac 10, Klay Thompson and his Cougs have dropped 4 of their last 6, including a donut registered in the desert last week.

The Huskies are still mathematically in it for the Pac 10 title, believe it or not. Though it is unlikely, Arizona has to lose two of their final three games for the Huskies to even have a chance. After a loss against USC on Thursday, Zona heads to UCLA today for a huge game that could help put pressure on Zona in the final week should UCLA win today.

However, the Huskies can ill afford to focus on what the rest of the league is doing, and will need to focus on their own game. This shapes up to be a great chance for UW to take back the swag that WSU stole away from them a month ago.

Cougars 101: Ken Bone’s squad has been reeling as of late and have struggled to stay in the NCAA picture. Truth be told, barring a Pac 10 Tourney championship, they have little  to no shot of getting into the dance. They will be plenty motivated to be a thorn in UW’s side on Sunday, just to say they are the “best in the state of Washington”. Wow, that hurt to type. Look for Bone to throw a lot of zone defense at UW on Sunday. Given the fact that they started UW’s three game skid by playing zone on UW, I would expect nothing different in their defensive scheme. On paper, WSU does pose a decent threat to steal a game from the Huskies on Sunday:

  • Klay Thompson = The Pac 10’s leading scorer at 21.2 ppg is priority #1 for the Huskies on Sunday. Klay had his first good game against UW in January as he registered 25 points. UW had little answer for Klay, even though he was in foul trouble most of the game. UW knows well what Klay can do and will look to achieve the “frustrated face” of Klay Thompson on several occasions before games end.
  • DeAngelo Casto = Casto shaved his head. He doesn’t look as intimidating to the naked eye anymore. Though struggling with injury in the past two weeks, Casto has been able to average double figures in his last five games. He remains to be WSU’s best rebounder and top shot blocker. He continues to be a nuisance for opposing teams in the paint and will need to be kept off the boards.
  • Faisel Aiden = Yes that’s right, a guy named Faisel spelled doom for the Huskies in January. A definitely front runner for the Pac-10 Sixth man of the year award (if there was one) has proven to be a spark off the bench for Coach Bone. Aiden is a dynamic scorer who’s jump shot proved to be difficult to guard in Pullman. He is averaging nearly 13 ppg and  UW will need to be aware of his whereabouts when he steps on the floor.
  • Reggie Moore = Reggie’s back in town yet again. The former Rainier Beach graduate will be looking to show his home crowd his talents by repeating his last visit to Hec Ed with another poster worthy jam. Reggie has been averaging double figures over his last three games and was a big reason why UW couldn’t overcome the deficit in Pullman last game. Look for VO to be all over Moore in this game.
  • Marcus Capers = Arguably one of the most athletic guards in the Pac 10, Capers has had little production over his past 6 games, but is always a threat in transition as he can finish as well as anyone in the league.

WSU Likely Starting Lineup:

  • G – Reggie Moore, 6’1″
  • G – Klay Thompson, 6’6″
  • G -Marcus Capers, 6’4″
  • F – Abe Lodwick, 6’7″
  • F – DeAngelo Casto, 6’8″

Huskies Update: Romar made the announcement this week that CJ Wilcox will return for a repeat performance in the starting line up. Given Romar’s success with having a big bodied shooter in the starting rotation, he will likely keep this formula going into the Tourney. Suggs will be sitting out for the third consecutive game and is hopeful to return against the LA schools next week.

Huskies Starting Lineup:

PG – Isaiah Thomas

SG – CJ Wilcox

SF – Justin Holiday

PF – MBA

C – Aziz N’Diaye

Keys to the Game:

  • Keeping TO’s to a minimum = 24 turnovers was the main reason UW lost last game against WSU. Look for Isaiah Thomas and the rest of the guards to keep TO’s to a bare minimum at home.
  • Rebounding = Same story, different game. UW out rebounded WSU 44-28 in their last meeting. I expect a similar showing on Sunday.
  • Get MBA started early = MBA had a forgettable game in their last match up scoring just six points on 1 for 8 shooting. MBA will be the key to help break down the zone that WSU will likely deploy. Once the inside presence is established, it should open up the UW guards for a barrage of looks from beyond the arc.
  • Keep Klay contained = Easier said than done, but look for Holiday to be back to his normal self defensively on Thompson. Holiday looked a step slower in Pullman in January, but since has started to look healthy again and is playing defense like we know he can.
  • IT going off = Given IT’s performance the last time we saw him at WSU,  I expect IT to regain his swag and go for over 24 points and 10 assists on Sunday. Thomas has not forgotten about the storming of the court in January and will definitely use that for extra motivation on Sunday.

Game Prediction = UW comes out on fire, much like we saw them against Cal at home. WSU will keep it close for the first 13 minutes, but UW will soon pull away for an emotional win against their in state rival.

UW 92 – WSU 78