Amid controversy, WSU takes on UCLA

PULLMAN—College student-athletes are conditioned to quickly move onto the next game, win or lose. But Brock Motum still thinks about the first meeting this season between WSU and UCLA, a game the Cougs owned but let slip away, 63-60. The radio-only rematch on Thursday night will hold interest from around the country, thanks to a withering Sports Illustrated article on UCLA published this week.

But for the Cougs, they just need to find a way to finish. Back on Feb.4, the Cougars had the lead most of the second half and appeared in line for their first home win over UCLA in eons. Brock Motum scored 25 points and added 11 rebounds.

All for naught.

The junior told CF.C this week the Bruins dominance over his team is something he can't accept.

"It's frustrating, but not just for me personally," Motum said. "It would just be good to beat them. I haven't beaten them in my college career so I look forward to it."

Before the SI article came out, the main Pac-12 storyline this season was parity.

"We just have to go in there and get a ‘W'," Moore said. "We played with them last time and we know we can beat them, I think they know that too. Every team is beatable in the Pac-12 so we just have to go down there and show it."

The first five minutes of the game figure to be critical for both teams. UCLA will want to come out on fire and demonstrate they're unaffected by the recent controversy. WSU will want to try and take advantage of a Bruin team that could be wound tight and dealing with a major distraction.

After things settle down, the key for WSU (14-14, 6-10 Pac-12) looks be finding a way to stop Josh Smith down low. Smith scored 19 points and added five rebounds in the first meeting, proving too much for Motum, Abe Lodwick and D.J. Shelton to handle.

Moore said that the guards have to make lives easier for the Cougar big-men on the glass.

"We really just have to make that post-entry pass not too easy for them," Moore said. "Once he gets it down-low we're going to have to double down on him and make sure he's not getting any offensive rebounds."

"He's just a big body," Motum added. "He's got good hands and good touch around the rim so stopping him from getting the ball will be key for us."

WSU finishes the regular season Saturday at USC (6-23, 1-15 Pac-12). WSU is 4-6 in their last 10 games and a solid weekend in L.A. is needed, says Moore.

"We want to get a good roll going in before the Pac-12 tournament," Moore said. "We want to go in there feeling like we're playing our best basketball and it starts with UCLA."

Moore is coming off a rough offensive game against UW where he went 0-6 from the floor and finished with only four points. In his last two games, the junior from Seattle is only 1-10 shooting but said his confidence remains high. "I'm going to keep attacking, probably even more," Moore said. "I'm just trying to stay aggressive and keep my teammates involved at the same time."

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