GAME NOTES: Evergreen State rivals mix it up on Saturday, as the Washington Huskies visit the Washington State Cougars in Pac-12 Conference action at Beasley Coliseum.
Washington has been a difficult team to figure out this season. The Huskies have won back-to-back games entering this contest, but they had lost three of five prior to the current win streak. Washington is 13-8 overall and in the thick of things in league play (5-3) as it sets out on this three-game road trip, which continues at Utah next Thursday.
Washington State has not been as puzzling. The Cougars are 8-12 overall, but they have been even worse against conference foes (1-7). They are currently riding a four-game losing streak, with their next bout coming on the road at Colorado.
Desmond Simmons' jumper with 1:16 to play proved to be the difference when Washington knocked Washington State out in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament last year. The Huskies have won six straight against the Cougars, and lead the all-time series by a 177-170 margin.
Nigel Williams-Goss scored 32 points to out-duel Roberto Nelson, the Pac-12's leading scorer, in Washington's 87-81 win over Oregon State last Saturday. The Huskies hit an even 50 percent from the floor in the matchup, while outscoring the Beavers in the paint, 52-34.
Williams-Goss (13 ppg, 4.1 apg) is still learning in his freshman season, but efforts like he had against Oregon State give a glimpse at his immense potential. He is currently second on the team in scoring, while among the top 10 players in the Pac-12 in assists. C.J. Wilcox (19.6 ppg) is the top scoring threat for the Huskies and the second best in the conference as well. Wilcox finished with 14 points on 7-of-13 shooting against Oregon State. Andrew Andrews (12.7 ppg) and Perris Blackwell (10.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) are also decent scorers, but as usual head coach Lorenzo Romar has not relied very often on his bench.
Washington State enters this contest still licking its wounds from the 71-44 whipping it took from Oregon last Sunday. The Cougars shot just 25 percent from the field, finishing with only 10 total field goals, eight of which came from beyond the arc.
Putting points on the board has been a struggle for Washington State all season long. The Cougars are last in the Pac-12 in scoring (62.1 ppg), as well as assists (10.7 apg) and field goal percentage (.413). Although part of the blame can be placed on the loss of leading scorer DaVonte Lacy (17.7 ppg), the Cougars have had nearly a month to figure things out since he went down with torn cartilage in his rib cage. Que Johnson (10.7 ppg) has stepped up in Lacy's absence, although his streak of games scoring in double figures ended at six against Oregon when he tallied just nine points on 3-of-10 from the field.
Wilcox and Williams-Goss are two of the more talented players in the Pac-12, which is more than can be said of any two players on Washington State's roster. Expect Washington to earn a third straight victory.
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