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Cougs Back to Business Friday Versus Montana State

Dec 16, 2020

2020 21 WSU MBB Notes 06 MSU

WASHINGTON STATE (5-0)
vs Montana State (2-1) | Fri., Dec. 18 | 6 p.m.
  Live Stats | Sidearm Stats
  Watch | Pac-12 Network (Greg Heister & Dan Dickau)
  Listen | WSU IMG Radio Network (Matt Chazanow & Craig Ehlo)

OPENING FIVE
> At 5-0 the Cougs are off to their best start since 2017-18 (6-straight to open the season). The Cougs best run/start of the modern era came in 2007-08 going 14-0 to begin the year including winning their first two Pac-12 contests.
> WSU takes on a Montana State squad that enters the week 2-1 with an impressive road win at UNLV and a close, overtime, loss at Pacific. The Cougs are 15-2 all-time at home against the Bobcats having won the last five in Pullman.
> Sophomore Noah Williams has proven himself the Cougs top player on both ends of the court having led the Cougs in scoring three times including averaging 18.5 ppg last week against Idaho and Portland State.
> Smith's Cougs continue to dominate the Pacific NW beating Eastern Washington, Oregon State, Idaho and Portland State this season to move to 11-0 against regional rivals in a year and a half.
> The Cougs enter the week one of the top defensive units in the country ranking #28 in scoring defense allowing just 58.6 points per game and #10 in effective FG% at just 40.0% allowed.

GAME INFORMATION - VS MONTANA STATE
After a week off for finals the Cougs begin the final three non-con games of the year with Montana State. The Bobcats are the fourth Big Sky team for the Cougs to face in six games and third straight having beaten Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Portland State. MSU was picked to finish sixth and in the middle of the pack. They are 2-1 on the year with a win at UNLV and at home over Yellowstone Christian and a loss at Pacific. The Cougs are 23-8 all-time against the Bobcats but lost the lass meeting on neutral ground in Kennewick in 2018, 95-90, that snapped 9-game winning streak for WSU. At home in Pullman, the Cougs are 15-2 with the last loss coming in 1973.

LAST TIME OUT - VS PORTLAND STATE
WSU 69 - PSU 60 | Dec. 13, 2020 | Pullman, WA

Noah Williams scored 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting and Isaac Bonton scored 16 and Washington State held Portland State at bay with a 69-60 win on Sunday. TJ Bamba scored 15 points for Washington State and Andrej Jakimovski 12. The Cougs led wire-to-wire for the first time on the year.

WILLIAMS LEADING THE WAY
Back and better than ever, sophomore Noah Williams has emerged as the Cougs' leader on both ends of the court as the second-year defensive ace has upped his offensive game, leading WSU in scoring in three of five games.
After a shaking off a rough opener, Williams has scored in double-figures in four-straight games, a career best.
Twice Williams has notched a career-best 19 points, leading the Cougs to wins over Eastern Washington and Idaho while adding 18 against Portland State. He has done his work from deep going 6-for-12 on the year including hitting 6-of-9 in the last four games. At the line, Williams hit 14-straight before snapping his season-best streak and is 14-of-18 from the charity stripe on the year.
In addition to his offensive spark, Williams has been the Cougs' best defender having posted seven steals on the year while also recording a career best two blocks against Idaho.
He has drawn a team-best five charges, including a pair of charges in the final seconds (:16 sec vs TSU, :03 sec vs EWU) of both the first two games to seal comeback victories for the Cougs.

BENNETT BALL BACK ON THE PALOUSE
Harkening back to the era of the Bennetts the 2020-21 Cougs have put their stock on their defense, dominating the defensive end of the court en route to a 5-0 record. In total, the Cougs rank #28 in the country in scoring defense allowing just 58.6 points per game.
WSU enters the weekend ranked #12 in the country in defensive FG% allowing teams to shoot just 34.8% with an effective FG% of just 40.0% (#10 in the DI). WSU's defensive efficiency ranks #81 at 94.7 per 100, nearly five points better than the DI average of 99.6 per 100.
The Cougs rank #13 in 2-ptFG% allowing teams to shoot just 38.7%, nearly 11 points below the DI average of 49.3%.
WSU has kept opponents off the offensive glass grabbing 30.4 defensive rebounds per game ranking #37 (allowing opponents to grab just 27.3% of offensive rebound chances).

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