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The homestretch in sight, Cougs head to Tempe

Feb 26, 2021

2020 21 WSU MBB Notes 26 ASU

WASHINGTON STATE (14-11, 7-11)
at Arizona State (9-11, 6-8) | Sat., Feb. 27 | 6 p.m. PT
  Live Stats | Statbroadcast
  Watch | Pac-12 Network (Daron Sutton & Eddie House)
  Listen | WSU IMG Radio Network (Matt Chazanow & Craig Ehlo)

> The Cougs play the first of two on the road at ASU to close out the regular season. Last season, the two teams split their season series with the Sun Devils winning in Tempe. The Sun Devils come into the weekend hot having won back-to-back games over Washington to start the week.
> WSU is coming off a tough loss at Tucson as the Wildcats pulled away in the second half. The Cougs struggled from the field shooting just 31.7% from the floor.
> Sophomore Noah Williams was named the Pac-12 POW as well as the NCAA and USBWA National POW after scoring a program record 72 points over the weekend. He became the first Coug to drop 40 in a game since Klay Thompson in 2011. He was held to just 8 points at Arizona.
> Freshmen TJ Bamba (12) and Dishon Jackson (10) were the Cougs top scorers against the Wildcats as Bamba went 3-for-3 from deep including a 4-pt play while Jackson threw his weight around in the paint before foul trouble limited his playing time.
> WSU has thrown around its size in the paint as the Cougs enter the game grabbing 37.8 rpg, the best season average in nearly half a century since grabbing 40.0 rpg in 1975-76. Additionally, the Cougs are averaging 3.5 blocks per game, posting 3+ bpg for the first time since 2015-16.

The Cougs finish the regular season with a pair of contests at Arizona State playing Saturday in a regularly scheduled matchup and again Monday afternoon in a makeup of the previously postponed contest from December 31. Both teams are jockeying for position in the upcoming Pac-12 tournament with the Sun Devils playing four times in the week as they also take on Washington in back-to-back meetings to make up a postponed game from early January. 
Last season, the Cougs and the Sun Devils split their season series with both teams winning on their home court. The Sun Devils come in hot having beaten Washington in back-to-back games to start the week.

UA 69 - WSU 53 | Feb. 25, 2021 | Tucson, Ariz.

The Cougs struggled to find their offense shooting just 31.7% from the floor as they scored a season-low 53 points. The Wildcats were able to pull away in the second half as the Cougs inside presence was saddled with foul trouble allowing Arizona to crash the glass and work the paint. The loss was the Cougs' fourth-straight against the Wildcats.

After battling an ankle injury most of the year, junior Aljaz Kunc, the longest tenured Coug, has picked up where he left off as one of the Cougs' most consistent contributor. The third-year Coug has found his groove in February (seven games, missed OSU due to illness) as he has hit double figures in four of the seven contests.
In seven games, Kunc is averaging 9.3 ppg (46.8% FG, 42.3 3PT, 83.3% FT) while averaging 6.. rpg. He tied a career high with 14 points against Washington when he went 5-for-5 from the floor.
He grabbed a career-best 14 rebounds at Arizona, nearly doubling his previous high of 8.

Entering the year one of the youngest teams in the conference the Cougs youth has been served as the freshmen have taken over on the Palouse. Against Arizona, freshmen Efe Abogidi, Andrej Jakimovski, and Dishon Jackson (1st career start) became the first trio of true freshmen to start a game for WSU for the first time since March 9, 2006 vs Oregon at the Pac-10 Tournament (Aaron Baynes, Caleb Forrest, Chris Matthews). The trio finished the game with a combined 34 points on 22 FG attempts, 22 rebounds, 3 blocks and only 3 turnovers.
Freshman TJ Bamba joined the mix having started against Cal, Stanford, and at Arizona. The four freshmen starters have posted the most starts in program history at 58, surpassing the record of 53 set in 2004-05.
Their combined 58 starts is the third most in Division I trailing only Kentucky (63) and KState (60). Abogidi leads the way with 25 starts, one of two Cougs to have started and played in every contest.

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