Early battle at the top pits the Cougs against No. 20 USC
> After winning their Pac-12 opener Wednesday at Arizona State the Cougs return home to take on #20 USC in the second of the early conference contests. The Cougs are looking to snap a 10-game skid against the Trojans and get coach Smith his first win against USC.
> The Cougs won their opener in Pac-12 play for the second-straight season after downing ASU Wednesday night. WSU's defense came up with a record setting performance against the Sun Devils holding ASU to just 29 points, the lowest scoring total for a WSU opponent in the Pac era dating back to 1968.
> Noah Williams returned from injury to led score 14 points at ASU. It was his fifth-straight game with double-digit scoring. He leads the team at 13.8 points per game.
> Pac-12 play enabled the Coug bigs to flourish, in particular Dishon Jackson as the sophomore center went for 10&10 for his first career double-double. He blocked two more shots giving him 7 in the last two games.
> Defensively the Cougs have used their length and athleticism to come up with 5.9 blocks per game (21st in the country) - Efe Abogidi (1.9 per game) and Dishon Jackson (1.4 per game) lead the way.
GAME INFORMATION - vs USC
The Cougs return home from their first real trip away from the Palouse to take on No. 20 USC Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. Despite losing the Pac-12 Player of the Year and NBA Lottery pick Even Mobley, USC has come out of the gates hot in 2021-22 having gone 7-0 to begin the year including a 93-73 win over Utah to open Pac-12 play earlier in the week.
The matchup between the two teams has been controlled by the Trojans as of late with USC winning 10-straight over the Cougs including the last time in Pullman, 76-65, last February. Despite the skid the Cougs have had their chances to get in the win column thanks to the play of their big man Dishon Jackson who scored 32 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the two combined games against the Trojans and Mobley last season. Jackson's 18 points in February was a career high for the Coug center.
The Cougs are looking for their first win in the series since March 1, 2015 when WSU won 70-66 at LA and their first win at home since March 9, 2013 when the Cougs won 76-51.
The Cougs jump back into non-conference play with Weber State coming to town Wednesday, Dec. 8. The Wildcats are a perfect 7-0 on the year with a chance to go 8-0 Saturday night with a contest against Portland State. At 7-0, Weber State is off to its best start since the 1985-86 season. All-time the two teams have met just once in 1983 facing off in the NCAA Tournament in Boise, ID in a contest the Cougs would win, 62-52.
LAST TIME OUT - at ARIZONA STATE
WSU 51 - ASU 29 | DEC. 1, 2021 | TEMPE, ARIZ.
The Cougs took the win in the Pac-12 opener behind the best defensive performance in program history as WSU held ASU to just 29 points, the lowest scoring total for a Coug conference opponent in the Pac era dating back to 1968. In the game WSU held ASU to a 21.1 field goal pct., the lowest FG pct. allowed since holding Oregon to 20.8 (2/12/08). In addition to the defensive efforts the Cougs' offense did enough led by Noah Williams who returned from injury to score 14 points while Dishon Jackson picked up his first career double-double with 10&10.
The win was #200 for coach Kyle Smith in his head coaching career.
A DEFENSIVE NIGHT FOR THE BOOKS
Opening Pac-12 play against ASU the Cougs put together arguably the greatest defensive performance in the history of the program holding the Sun Devils to just 29 points on 21.1% shooting in Tempe. In the game WSU allowed the fewest points in a conference game in program history (59-37 win at Cal, 1/14/88). It was the fewest points since holding Mississippi Valley State to 25 points in a 76-25 season-opening win (11/15/08) and just eighth time since 1940 the Cougs have held a team under 30. While it was the first time WSU held an opponent under 40 points since holding Idaho State to 39 (12/29/12). It was the ASU's lowest point total since 1946. The 21.1 field goal pct. was the lowest FG pct. allowed since holding Oregon to 20.8 (2/12/08).
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