Date: Saturday, 2/16/19
Tip-Off Time: 5:00 pm PT
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn
Location: Pullman, Washington
Betting Line: Washington -7.5
Washington State 2018-19 Statistics:
Record: 10-14 (3-8)
Points For per Game: 77.5 (59th)
Points Against per Game: 77.7 (298th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.5 (101st)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 109.1 (274th)
Strength of Schedule: -0.4 (151st)
Washington State Key Players:
F- Jeff Pollard, Jr. 6’9, 240: 4.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.5 apg, 59.2% FG, 78.1% FT
Pollard wasn’t a part of the rotation to start the season but has gotten on the court more in conference play. He actually leads the conference in offensive rating during Pac-12 play by shooting 65% and never turning the ball over. The problem? He rarely touches the ball as his usage rate is about the same as Sam Timmins. To sum it up: he’s a shorter Timmins who doesn’t block shots or turn the ball over.
F-Robert Franks, Sr. 6’9, 225: 22.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, 52.7% FG, 39.4% 3pt, 80.7% FT
Franks went supernova last weekend in the desert and is now putting up a ridiculous 60/46/100 2%/3%/FT% split in conference play. He’s both taking the 2nd highest percentage of his teams shots and is the 2nd most efficient player in the conference. If the Cougars were winning and he hadn’t missed 3 games due to injury he’d be in the Pac-12 player of the year conversation. Franks missed the Cougars’ first game against UW this year but in the 2 games last year he averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds on 47% shooting.
F- C.J Elleby, Fr. 6’6, 185: 15.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 45.5% FG, 39.6% 3pt, 65.1% FT
Elleby has continued to play like a lock for a spot on the all-conference freshman team and looks like he’ll become Washington State’s star player next year after Robert Franks leaves. He lit up the Huskies in their first meeting without Franks, going off for 26 points and 10 rebounds on 8 of 13 shooting from the floor.
G- Viont’e Daniels, Jr. 6’2, 175: 6.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 40% FG, 38.8% 3pt, 92.9% FT
Daniels’ 3-pt percentage is down almost 10% from how he shot in conference play last year but he’s still one of the better shooters in the Pac-12. More than 3/4th of his shot attempts have come from beyond the 3-pt line so he’s not much of a threat to drive the ball.
G- Ahmed Ali, Jr. 5’11, 165: 7.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 38.4% FG, 34.3% 3pt, 85.7% FT
Ali hasn’t been much of a scorer recently as he has only reached double digit points in 2 of 11 conference games after reaching that mark 7 times in the non-conference. Ali played a season low 5 minutes in the first meeting against the Huskies so it will be interesting to see if that was part of the gameplan or if he’ll play much more this time around since he has played at least 15 minutes in every game since.
2018-19 Washington State Shot Chart
The Cougar offense is at least average in just about every respect except shooting baseline jumpers. They’re most dangerous shooting the corner 3-pointer or cutting to the rim so the Huskies need to prevent the drive first and foremost to prevent penetration or a kickout to an open shooter. If the Cougars choose to bomb it away from straight away then you let them and see how it turns out.
I don’t think anyone envisioned that Washington State would emerge from the Arizona road trip with a better record than Washington but that’s where we find ourselves in this twilight zone version of the Pac-12. Prior to sweeping the Arizona schools the Cougars had lost 5 straight all by at least 9 points so it isn’t as if they were right on the cusp before that and then finally broke through. It was legitimately stupefying that Wazzu thumped Arizona State (although Arizona is now officially in a tailspin so that one may make more sense).
The biggest key to the Cougars’ winning streak was the play of Robert Franks who took home Pac-12 player of the week (and a few national player of the week awards) averaging 32.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. Franks missed the first game this year against the Huskies so it will be a completely different Washington State offense with him in the lineup. Franks is shooting an incredible 27 of 38 (71%) on 2-pointers playing against zone defenses this year. He’s also shooting 46% from 3-pt range in conference play so there’s not really a good option other than try to keep him from getting the ball.
C.J Elleby has been the Robin to Franks’ batman and is one of the leading candidates for Pac-12 freshman of the year. Given his ability to pass at 6’6 it wouldn’t surprise me to see them put Elleby in the high post and hope he’s able to make the right decision to find holes in the zone. He was tremendous in the first game against UW without Franks when he was the #1 option.
The biggest problem for the Cougars will be figuring out how to stop Washington from scoring. There’s no true rim protector on this team and so Washington State allows opponents to shoot nearly 60% on shots at the basket which is one of the worst marks in the country. You can expect Noah Dickerson to have an absolute field day if the refs give him a chance to operate on the inside. Sam Timmins will be the biggest player on the court whenever he’s out there so if he can play aggressively and attack the rim it would be a big help.
The Huskies understand that they can’t afford to lose a game like this and reach their goals of making and advancing in the NCAA tournament. Coming off the loss at Arizona State you can expect they’ll be plenty motivated and Washington State’s success last week will keep them from looking past this matchup. You’d expect that a full week off without games will get rid of the flu bug and help give some time to heal for Noah Dickerson’s ankle and David Crisp’s shoulder. However, the last time the Huskies won a game in Pullman by more than 5 points was 2010 despite how poor the Cougars have been in that time so Wazzu generally steps up their game hosting the basketball Apple Cup. But if Washington is healthy down the stretch run they shouldn’t lose another regular season game.
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