Men's Basketball releases its early season schedule
PULLMAN, Wash. – With the new year on the horizon Washington State men's basketball's 2021-22 schedule has begun to come into focus with the release of the Cougars' early season schedule. WSU will play 11 non-conference contests with 10 home dates including a return to Spokane Arena for a pair of games before heading into the meat of their Pac-12 schedule. In addition to 11 non-conference games, the Cougs will play a pair of early season conference contests announced prior by the Pac-12 office as part of the league's 20-game schedule design.
The new season tips-off for the Cougs Nov. 9 at Beasley Coliseum with Alcorn State as the Braves make the long trek across the country to open things up. The matchup will mark just the second meeting between the two teams and first in 30-years after playing once in 1991 in a game the Cougs won 119-81. The 119 points is the third most points scored in a single game by WSU.
After opening the season with a cross-country foe, the Cougs look across the state as Seattle U comes to Pullman, Nov. 12, to battle it out for the fourth time in five seasons. The Redhawks last came to Pullman in 2019 to begin the Kyle Smith era at Washington State with the Cougs prevailing 85-54 in their new head coach's debut game. Overall, the Cougs have won two of the last three in the recent running of the rivalry, taking both games at home on the Palouse.
Closing out the opening week of games and the three-game homestand the Cougs welcome Big West champion UC Santa Barbara to Pullman, Nov. 15, for the first time since 1984. The matchup is the first between the Cougs and the Gauchos since the two teams met at the Great Alaska Shootout in 2014 in a game UCSB took down in the opening contest of the tournament. The Gauchos enter the year coming off one of their most successful seasons in program history after just missing 12-5 upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last march.
Leaving the friendly confines of Beasley Coliseum for the first time on the year, the Cougs do not have to travel far for their first road game as WSU crosses the border to take on Idaho as the two teams continue the longest running continuous rivalry in the nation Nov. 18 at Moscow. Unlike years before, the Cougs and Vandals will meet at Idaho's brand new ICCU Arena. Despite the new venue the Cougs will look to continue their recent success against their regional rival having won the last three contests including taking a 78-65 win the last time in Moscow in 2019.
The Cougs return home Nov. 22 to take on another NCAA Tournament team and the Big South champion Eagles of Winthrop. The Eagles come into the year having gone 23-2 a year ago, a record-breaking and historic campaign on the hardwood for the team. The Cougs have only once taken on the Eagles prior, facing off in the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Denver, Colo. with WSU coming out on top 71-40.
After returning from a break for Thanksgiving, the Cougs come back to take on another set of Eagles, this time from Eastern Washington as the new look team from just up the road return to Pullman for the second-consecutive season on Nov. 27. Last season the Cougs dispatched an EWU team, 71-68, that would eventually take the Big Sky Tournament title en route to claiming its third NCAA Tournament bid.
With the first half of non-conference tune ups complete, the Cougs jump headfirst into Pac-12 play as WSU heads to Tempe, Ariz. to take on Arizona State in the tip-off of conference play Dec. 1. For the Cougs, the matchup will mark their third-straight game against the Sun Devils in conference play having closed out the 2020-21 season in Tempe before facing off again in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament one-week later. After their trip to Tempe, the Cougs return home to take on USC, Dec. 4, looking to get back on track against the Trojans who have controlled the recent series between the two teams.
After their first taste of conference play the Cougs head down the homestretch of non-conference play with five final home games, two of which will send the team north to Spokane Arena. Prior to their first trip to Spokane the Cougs will take on Weber State at Beasley Coliseum on Dec. 8. The game on the Palouse will be just the second meeting all-time between the two teams and the first since an NCAA Tournament showdown in 1983 when the two sides met at Boise, Idaho with the Cougs prevailing 62-52.
Returning to the Spokane Arena after a brief hiatus last season, the Cougs play the first of two non-conference games at the arena Dec. 11 as WSU takes on South Dakota State for the first time in program history. Last season, the Jackrabbits just missed out on playing for the Summit League title and a berth into the NCAA Tournament, falling in the league's semifinal contest to end their year 16-7 overall.
Back at Beasley, the Cougs play a pair of games with New Mexico State (Dec. 15) and Northern Colorado (Dec. 18) closing out WSU's time on the Palouse in non-conference play. The Cougs last took on New Mexico State at the Spokane Arena in 2019, defeating the Aggies, 63-54, for their first win in the brief all-time series. Three days later the Cougs host the Bears in the first meeting all-time between the two teams.
To close out the non-conference schedule the Cougs head back to Spokane, this time to take on a Boise State that won 19 games in 2020-21 while earning a bid to the NIT. Despite the relative closeness of the Cougs and the Broncos the two sides have only met six times since 1970 with the last meeting coming in 2007 at Boise. The Cougs have won the last two matchups in the series including a 65-63 win at Spokane Arena in 2006.
Overall, the Cougs non-conference schedule features a mix of games of regional rivals and teams from out of state. Additionally, the Cougs will cut their teeth against a handful of postseason teams from a season ago including facing off against a trio of NCAA Tournament teams that will come to the Palouse in November.