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."
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.