So who among Cougs steps up now against UCLA?

YOU CAN'T REPLACE the Pac-10's leading scorer. You can only try to minimize the damage. Klay Thompson's suspension puts WSU squarely behind the eight ball in terms of beating UCLA in Saturday's critical regular-season finale. And things could go from bad to red alert if Reggie Moore, who injured his ankle in the first half of the USC win Thursday, isn't ready to roll.

It's a huge game on Saturday, perhaps even bigger than originally thought. Washington State has surged back onto ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi's radar after knocking off Washington on the road and dispatching USC in Pullman on Thursday night.

Lunardi has the Cougs smack-dab back on the bubble, listing the Cougs as the third team out of the top 68. His "last four in" are Richmond, Boston College, Michigan, Clemson. His "first four out" are Alabama, Colorado, Washington State and Baylor.

If Moore joins Thompson on the list of unavailables Saturday, Washington State could start Faisal Aden at one of the wings. He had a huge game against USC and seems to be playing with much greater focus since his woes at Arizona State.

Trying to account for Thompson's conference-leading scoring average (21.4) is tough enough. It's an even taller order for someone who is playing with a bum knee, though Aden showed no ill effects with his 20 points against USC.

On defense, Reeves Nelson has been a longtime thorn in WSU's side, and defending massive Josh Smith down low is no picnic. DeAngelo Casto will have to stay out of foul trouble and limit Smith's effectiveness. And then it falls to Abe Lodwick and Brock Motum to put a governor on Nelson.

Because if UCLA can exploit the paint, long a Cougar shortcoming this season, Washington State is in for a long afternoon.

A COUPLE THOUGHTS on the Klay Thompson arrest. While college campuses used to be awash in beer and hard alcohol, that's been replaced in large part in this day and age by marijuana use. And people can debate whether pot should be legal all they want, but that's irrelevant here.

Because at the end of the day, though, the law is the law is the law. And team rules are team rules are team rules. And for a player as high profile as Klay Thompson, with all that WSU has riding on Saturday's game, to be arrested as he was about an hour or so after a big win over USC, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Lastly, Klay's father Mychal, quoted at length in an article from the Seattle Times today, has it absolutely right.

"I've been in that situation many, many times and chose not to do it. You've got to be better than that, you've got to be smarter," he says.

Indeed, Mr. Thompson. Indeed.

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