This week in Cougar Hoops: Gonzaga, FSU

IN A SEASON that's about a month old, we already know the Cougars play much better at home than outside of Pullman. But how good can they be at home? We'll soon find out, as this is Gonzaga week. It's going to take a great performance to beat an opponent that appears destined for a long NCAA tournament run.

The week ahead: Washington State (5-3) has two home games on its slate this week, 8 p.m. Wednesday against Gonzaga (ESPNU), and noon Sunday against Fresno State (Pac-12 Network).

Ken Bone's track record says the Cougs have a shot at the No. 10 Zags here. The last time the two teams played in Pullman, Washington State hit 11 3-pointers and ran away with an 81-59 decision. Bone's Cougars have lost twice to the Bulldogs in Spokane, but both games were highly competitive. Last year, it took a performance for the ages by freshman Kevin Pangos to lift GU to an 89-81 win. In 2009, WSU tanked a 12-point lead during the final 10 minutes to lose 74-69.

Gonzaga (8-0) comes into the game ranked 10th in both polls. A case could be made that this is the Zags' toughest test to date, as it is their first true road game, not to mention a rival. Gonzaga's closest game was decided by eight points, a 57-49 win over Clemson. GU has yet to play a team ranked in the top 25, although that changes Saturday when it plays host to No. 13 Illinois.

What makes Gonzaga a match-up nightmare is its balance. Last year it was Pangos. This time, it could be guard Gary Bell, or forward Elias Harris, or big man Kelly Olynyk. Six Bulldogs are averaging between 9.6 and 15.9 points a game, led by Harris.

As for Fresno State, the Bulldogs (4-3) play San Diego Christian on Thursday prior to their trip to the Palouse. FSU isn't exactly impressing the strength-of-schedule wonks early this season; its most notable opponents are Texas and Long Beach State. Like Gonzaga, no top 25 opponents to date on Fresno State's schedule.

Fresno State's leading scorer is guard Allen Huddleston at 13.0 points per game. Huddleston is a transfer from University of Pacific, and sat out last season. FSU's most formidable inside presence is senior forward Kevin Foster, who is averaging 10 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.

Fresno State is the flip side to Gonzaga. Whereas Gonzaga is one of the country's top scoring teams, FSU ranks No. 318 in scoring offense at 58.8 points a game.

The last time WSU played Fresno State was 2010, when Faisal Aden and Klay Thompson combined for 50 points in a 66-55 win at Fresno.

Did you know? Washington State had better be ready to play defense Wednesday. Gonzaga leads the country in field goal percentage at 53.3 percent.

Week in review: Washington State went 2-0 during the past week, with home-court victories over Idaho and Portland.

Brock Motum's 29-point performance in a 72-60 win over Portland increased his season scoring average to 18.9 points, placing him third in the Pac-12. Motum is prominent throughout the Pac-12 statistical leaders after collectively scoring 55 points and grabbing 16 rebounds against Idaho and Portland. Motum is also 10th in defensive rebounds (5.4 per game) and 15th in rebounding (7.0 ppg).

The only other Cougar prominently among Pac-12 stat leaders is Royce Woolridge, who is ninth in 3-point field goal percentage.

Though the final score from the Idaho and Portland games have similar margins, no question the win over the Vandals was tougher to accomplish. Washington State was unable to shake its pesky border neighbors, even after opening up a 13-point first half lead. The game really wasn't in the bag until D.J. Shelton scored consecutive baskets during 55-second stretch to give the Cougars a 62-55 lead with 1:08 remaining.

As well as Motum played, the Idaho performance was a confidence booster for Shelton, who hit 6 of 8 shots and scored seven of his 14 points during the final three minutes.

As for Portland, WSU completely controlled the game, even if it got a bit tight early in the second half. The Cougars' defense turned UP into a one-man team of Ryan Nicholas, who scored 17 points. The rest of the Pilots shot 13 of 38 from the field, and had 15 rebounds. It was nice to see Woolridge get untracked, as the Kansas transfer hit three 3-pointers, shot 6 of 11 from the floor and scored 20 points.

Read Nick Daschel's occasional Pac-10 ramblings at

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