Here's my game preview.
Washington and Washington State both open Pac-10 play Saturday projected for the middle part of the league and the NCAA tournament bubble. That only amplifies the difference between a 1-0 start and an 0-1 start.
Washington has the added incentive of wanting to end a seven-game losing streak to WSU.
"You lose to them seven times straight, it's definitely a game that you want to win," said UW senior Jon Brockman, who has never beaten the Cougs. "It's something that I definitely want to accomplish before I leave here. That makes me just have more respect for Wazzu and how good of a team they are. They've had some great teams and some great players and they've played basketball the right way for the last few years."
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Meanwhile, as much as WSU would like to keep the streak going, senior guard Taylor Rochestie points out that this game also is important for other reasons.
"We're a young team, we want to get our first win in the Pac-10, especially our first game," he said. "It's a home game for us and we want to have a good home record, protect our home court. It's a rival game. It's the first game of the new year -- so many reasons that we want to go out there and get a win. … This will be a really high energy game with a lot on the line, and I think everyone is going to be pretty excited about it. All the slates are clean, and everyone's just trying to get a win."
A quick scouting report:
AT WASHINGTON STATE (8-4)
3 p.m. Saturday, Friel Court, Pullman.
Radio: 950-AM (UW); 850-AM (WSU).
Series: UW leads, 167-98. However, WSU has won the last seven meetings.
Statistical leaders: For UW, F Jon Brockman, 16.5 ppg and 10.2 rpg; G Isaiah Thomas, 3.1 apg. For WSU, C Aron Baynes, 11.4 ppg and 6 rpg; G Taylor Rochestie, 4.8 apg.
Scouting report: This is the Pacific-10 Conference opener for both teams. Washington comes in on a seven-game win streak. WSU has lost four of its last seven, including its most recent outing, 64-52, at Louisiana State last weekend. … UW is 0-3 away from home. … The Cougars have the No. 1 scoring defense in the Pac-10, allowing 49.3 ppg, and the lowest-rated offense, scoring 60.1 ppg. UW is third in scoring (77.5) and ninth in points allowed (64.8). The Huskies lead the Pac-10 in rebounding margin. … WSU is one of four Division I schools with nine freshmen on its roster. … UW's Thomas leads Pac-10 freshmen with a 14.8 scoring average. UW freshman guard Elston Turner is out with an ankle sprain.
Next for UW: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, vs. Stanford, Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Next for WSU: 7 p.m. Thursday, vs. California, Friel Court.