And certainly for Washington, all the intangibles are there for a big finale:
- A win over the Cougars would force Oregon State to sweep the L.A. schools on the road to keep the Huskies out of the PAC-10 tournament as the eighth seed.
- A win over the Cougars would help ease the stinging memory of being the only team to lose to Washington State in conference this season.
- A win over the Cougars would make it three wins in four games for Washington -- something the Huskies haven't accomplished since December 8, when they beat New Mexico State in Las Cruces for their fourth win in five tries to go a then-promising 6-2.
- A win over the Cougars would mean, in baby steps, an improvement over last year's 4-14 conference and 10-20 overall record.
- A win over the Cougars would give Washington eight straight wins in Seattle over their cross-state rivals.
- A win over the Cougars would send seniors Grant Leep and David Dixon out as winners in their last home game.
If there is a Husky-killer on the Cougar side, though, it is point guard Marcus Moore. The 6-6 sophomore scored 18 (of his team-high 28) points in the last 10 minutes of the team's first meeting in Pullman, leading WSU to their only conference victory. Jerry McNair added 20, and Bush put the Cougars ahead with a dunk in the final minute.
Will Conroy was fouled with 0:01 remaining and needed to hit all three tosses to force OT, but missed the second. Doug Wrenn registered 22 of his career-best 34 points in the second half, and Dixon swatted a season-high seven shots.
With what Washington has to play for -- namely, a first-round PAC-10 tournament game at the Staples Center a week from Thursday with, well, who knows at this point -- it would seem that knocking off the lowly Cougars would be a mission directive that can be handily accomplished with a top effort.
But so far this season, nothing has come easy for Washington. And there's no doubt that the Cougars will do all they can to help keep their rivals at home next week.
The upcoming PAC-10 tourney has given this one, unwittingly perhaps, some spice. On a cool February evening, it should keep it plenty warm inside.
GAME NOTES: WSU's schedule doesn't end tonight. They host Centenary this Saturday in Pullman to end their season . . . Doug Wrenn needs to score 20 points to become the first UW player to average 20 per game since Chris Welp 15 years ago. If Wrenn can hit for 22, he will post the 10th-best single-season point total in Husky History . . . Freshman Will Conroy has started the past three games, first out of reward for his play in Arizona and then because, superstitiously, the Huskies have been playing decently with him in the starting lineup. But Curtis Allen had a huge weekend in the Willamette Valley, so the guess here is that he'll get the starting nod . . .
WASHINGTON CL HT PTS REB Doug Wrenn SO 6-8 20.0 6.4 Grant Leep SR 6-7 7.6 4.1 David Dixon SR 6-11 8.1 7.7 Will Conroy FR 6-1 2.5 1.6 Curtis Allen SO 6-2 12.2 4.5* WASHINGTON STATE CL HT PTS REB Shaminder Gill FR 6-7 4.0 3.3 Thomas Kelati FR 6-5 3.0 2.1 J Locklier SR 6-9 12.3 6.1 Jerry McNair JR 6-2 11.1 2.1 Marcus Moore SO 6-6 16.5 5.0* (* = Assists)