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Battle of the Palouse set for Wednesday

Dec 7, 2020

2020 21 WSU MBB Notes 04 IDAHO

vs Idaho (0-2) | Wed., Dec. 9 | 6 p.m.
  Live Stats | Sidearm Stats
  Watch | Pac-12 Network (Greg Heister & Dan Dickau)
  Listen | WSU IMG Radio Network (Matt Chazanow & Craig Ehlo)

> After postponing their road game at Colorado due to Covid concerns, the Cougs stay home for the Battle of the Palouse as WSU hosts Idaho Wednesday at Beasley. It is part of what will be a 10-game homestand to begin the season after postponing their lone road trip of the 2020 calendar year. The Cougs beat Idaho on the road last season.
> WSU enters the game 3-0 after taking down Oregon State, 59-55, to begin Pac-12 play a week prior, winning their Pac-12 opener at home for the first time since 2004.
> A tale of two halves the Cougs have been dominant in the second half of games, coming back from three-straight halftime deficits while also overcoming double-digit deficits in the last two contests.
> Sophomore Noah Williams is emerging offensively as the second-year defensive star has now scored double-digits in back-to-back games including a career-best 19 pts vs EWU.
> Smith's Cougs continue to dominate the Pacific NW beating Eastern Washington and Oregon State. Last year the Cougs were a perfect 6-0 against regional rivals.

The Cougs stay home in the midst of a 10-game home stand to begin the season with five more non-conference games beginning with Idaho Wednesday night. The Battle of the Palouse brings the Vandals to town after the Cougs went to Moscow last season and picked up a 78-65 win on the road, their first road win of the year thanks to 18 from Tony Miller and 12 from Noah Williams. The series dates back to 1906 with the Cougs holding a 165-110 edge including going 98-37 all-time in Pullman. The Cougs have won two-straight in the series with their last loss at home coming in 2014, a win that snapped a home winning streak for the Cougs that dated back to 1989.
Idaho has struggled in its first two games of the year, both on the road at Sacramento State, falling by nearly identical scores of 77-55 and 73-57. In the losses Scott Blakney led the way averaging 12 ppg while Gabe Quinnett averaged 10 ppg. The Vandals were picked to finish last in the Big Sky in the preseason coaches poll.

WSU 59 - OSU 55 | Dec. 2, 2020 | Pullman, WA

13 points in the second half, including three triples by DJ Rodman and timely free-throw shooting by Isaac Bonton and Aljaz Kunc sealed a double-digit comeback for the Cougs against Oregon State to begin Pac-12 play Wednesday night. The win was the second-straight for the Cougs against the Beavers having won back-to-back games at Beasley against their Pacific NW regional rival.

For the first time since 2017 the Cougs are receiving votes in the AP Top-25, picking up three votes, one for each win of the year. The Pac-12 has one team ranked (#23) and three teams receiving votes (Oregon, WSU, UCLA).
In 2017 the Cougs picked up 25 votes in the Nov. 28 poll after winning the Wooden Classic to move to 6-0 on the year. It was their first votes since 2011. The last time the Cougs have cracked the top-25 was March 18, 2008, finishing the 2007-08 season ranked #21. WSU moved as high as #4 that season (for three-straight weeks), the highest ranking in program history.

In three-straight games to start the year the Cougs have erased half-time deficits (3 vs TSU, 6 vs EWU, 3 vs OSU). Last season the Cougs were just 3-11 in games when trailing at half with their biggest comeback coming against UCLA, winning in OT after trailing by 7 at the break.
In addition to halftime comebacks, the Cougs overcame  back-to-back double-digit deficits including a 13-point deficit against the EWU which was the biggest comeback since erasing a 20-point deficit against Saint Joseph's on 11/23/17. Against Oregon State, the Cougs trailed by 10 with 14:24 to play in the game.
The Cougs also snapped a 16-game winless streak in the Coach Smith era when trailing with five minutes to play in the game as EWU held a slim one-point advantage at the five minute mark before WSU took its first lead of the game with 4:48 to play, never to trail again.

With their win over Oregon State, the Cougs won for the first time when tipping off the conference schedule at home since defeating Stanford, 60-51, Dec. 31, 2004 when the conference was the Pac-10. In addition, it was the Cougs first win in a Pac-12 opener since the 2016-17 season when they went to Seattle and defeated Washington, 79-74, Jan. 1, 2017.
The Cougs will look for to win their road opener for the first time since the 2016-17 season when WSU defeated Washington in the conference opener.

For the first time since the 2007-08 season the Cougs reigned supreme in the Pacific Northwest sweeping UW, Oregon, and Oregon State in 2019-20. Additionally, the Cougs added wins over Seattle, Idaho, and Idaho State for good measure in non-conference play while beating Eastern Washington and Montana in closed scrimmages prior to the start of the regular season.
The Cougs are off and running in 2020-21 with wins over Eastern Washington and Oregon State.

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