Nine of the last 10 meetings between WSU and UW have been decided by 8 points or less. Alas for Cougar fans, UW has won seven of those nine. The road team has won two of the last three meetings.
Both WSU and UW will enter the New Year's Day matchup with 7-5 records. WSU’s prospects for an upset win on the road looked more promising a couple weeks ago than they might today, with UW then mired in a four-game losing streak. But UW has since won three in a row (Western Michigan, Cal Poly and Seattle).
It can be a big mistake to draw Pac-12 conclusions from the non-conference slates, competition levels vary. That said, UW looks to be a team that can score in bunches, but is also saddled with defensive issues. UW ranks No. 2 in the conference in scoring at 86.3 ppg, and No. 11 in scoring defense at 80.2. Washington State ranks ninth in both categories at 72.2 and 73.4, respectively.
WSU leads the league in free throw percentage (77.1) -- but is 11th in free throws attempted (262). The Huskies are ninth in FT percentage (70.3) but have 31 more attempts than the Cougs from the charity stripe (293).
Washington State has lost seven straight conference openers, the last win came in 2007-08 season. WSU is 0-5 in Pac-12 openers since the league expanded to 12 teams in 2011-12.
WSU is 6-0 this season when leading at halftime, and 1-5 when trailing.
Sunday marks the 284th meeting between WSU and UW. The Huskies lead the series 181-102.
Ernie Kent is 1-3 against the Huskies since becoming the Cougs' head coach. He is 11-20 all-time against Washington at WSU and Oregon.
Senior forward Josh Hawkinson is averaging a double-double this season with 15.8 ppg and 10.8 rpg.
True freshman point guard Malachi Flynn has scored in double figures in eight of WSU’s 12 games this season and is WSU's second-leading scorer behind Hawkinson at 11.3 ppg. Senior guard Ike Iroegbu is the third-leading scorer for the Cougars, with 10.8 ppg. Conor Clifford and Charles Callison, WSU's other two starters last time out, are knocking on the double-figures door with 9.8 and 9.3 ppg.
WSU is expected to get true freshman forward Jeff Pollard back for UW. He's missed the last four games to illness. Second-year sophomore guard Viont'e Daniels earlier missed four games with a concussion before returning two games ago, a pair of wins over Santa Clara and Sacramento State.
Three Cougar true freshmen are redshirting this season: Milan Acquaah, Arinze Chidom and Jamar Ergas.
- The Cougar big could set a number of records this season. He's six double-doubles away from setting the school record (53, Puidokas, 1974-77).
- With 829 rebounds, he's 164 away from taking over the top spot, also set by Puidokas (992).
- He needs 171 more boards this season to become the 13th player in Pac-12 history to nab 1,000 career rebounds.
- With 1,117 points, Hawkinson ranks 23rd on WSU’s career scoring list and at his current pace would finish 12th all-time at WSU.
Note: Hawkinson graduated with his business degree this summer after just three years at WSU. He is currently working on his master’s in business administration at WSU.
FROM THE CF.C ARCHIVES: What they're saying after WSU win over UW