Cougs to begin final road trip in Stanford

A rematch of a narrow win is next for the Cougs



WSU forward DJ Rodman passes the ball during an NCAA basketball game against Stanford, Jan. 14.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

WSU men’s basketball (13-15, 8-9 Pac-12) will face Stanford (11-16, 4-11 Pac-12) on the last road trip of the year Thursday.

This will be the second meeting of the two teams this season. The first meeting on Jan. 15 was a nail-biter, coming down to the very end. The Cougs won by a single point, 60-59.

In that game, the Cougs were missing their leading scorer TJ Bamba. Andrej Jakimovski made up for the missing guard with 17 points. DJ Rodman was second in scoring with 15.

Now, Bamba is back and playing well alongside several other players who are hot. The last game against Oregon saw four players in double figures and six players scoring 8 or more points.

Meanwhile, Stanford has had a peculiar last few weeks. After starting the season slowly, they now have wins over Utah, Oregon and No. 7 Arizona. That Arizona win looked a lot like the Cougs’ win against the Wildcats earlier in the season, with the Cardinal taking a 9-point victory by hitting more than half of their threes.

However, they did not manage to slow Arizona as the Cougs did and they won purely on offensive output, scoring 88 while allowing 79 points. That offense is nothing to scoff at. The Cardinal have been averaging 72 points per game in February. While their defense is not a huge concern, the Cougs will need to turn on the defense and get stops if they hope to succeed.

The Cardinal’s best scorer this year has been Spencer Jones, averaging a little over 13 points per outing. While he is certainly good, he is the type of scoring forward that the Cougar defense has been locking up as of late. While they allowed 14 points to him last time they played, they held Keion Brooks for UW to only 8 points in the Apple Cup.

Brooks is scoring more per game than Jones but they have a very similar archetypal build — both 6-foot-7 shot-creators who provide little in terms of playmaking. Jones is a better shooter from three by a lot but the point stands: the Cougs have the personnel to slow him down.

It goes without saying that this is a very important game. Winning this one puts the Cougs just a win away from .500 on the season and potentially in a position to jump higher in the Pac-12 standings and tournament seeding

The game starts at 8 p.m. Thursday in Stanford, California. Fans can watch on Pac-12 Network.